Grand slam carries Huskers to Super Regional win
Eugene, Ore. - The 14th-seeded Nebraska softball team grabbed a 1-0 lead in its best-of-three NCAA Super Regional with No. 3 Oregon, as the Huskers moved within one victory of a Women's College World Series berth with a 5-2 victory over the Ducks at Howe Field on Saturday night.
Nebraska earned its first-ever super regional victory behind an excellent outing from junior right-hander Tatum Edwards and a fifth-inning grand slam from senior Brooke Thomason. With the win, the Huskers improved to 44-13 on the year, while snapping Oregon's nation-leading 24-game home winning streak that dated back to last spring. The Ducks fell to 49-10 on the year and dropped to 19-1 at home in 2013.
Tatum Edwards (30-8) picked up the fourth 30-win season in school history, allowing only one earned run while tossing a complete-game five-hitter. Jessica Moore (27-5) took the loss for Oregon, allowing five runs on six hits in 5.0 innings of work.
After Nebraska's defense worked around runners in scoring position in both the first and second innings, the Huskers nearly took a lead in the top of the third. Sophomore Mattie Fowler led off the inning with an infield single, before classmate Jordan Bettiol walked to put runners on first and second. Following a pop out, senior Gabby Banda lined a 3-1 pitch into right field for a single, but Fowler was thrown out attempting to score on the play. Junior Taylor Edwards then just missed a three-run homer, flying out to the wall in left to end the threat.
The Huskers threatened again in the top of the fifth. Freshman Alicia Armstrong led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Fowler. Bettiol then drew her second walk of the game before Tatum Edwards lined a single into left field to load the bases. Banda then delivered her second hit of the game, an RBI single to center that scored Armstrong with the game's first run.
Leading 1-0, the Huskers still had the bases loaded with one out before a pop out marked the second out. Thomason then fouled off a 1-2 pitch before lining a 2-2 offering over the fence in right center for a grand slam that stretched the Huskers' lead to 5-0.
Oregon threatened its third time through the order in the top of the sixth. A one-out single was followed by a walk before an odd play marked the end of the inning. Alexa Peterson grounded a ball back to Tatum Edwards, who quickly threw to third for the second out before Banda threw across the diamond to first for an inning-ending double play, Nebraska's second of the game. What made the play an oddity was Peterson, who believed she had fouled the ball off, did not run to first base.
In the bottom of the seventh, back-to-back one-out singles and a walk loaded the bases with Ducks with only one out. An RBI ground out gave Oregon its first run of the game but marked the second out. An error on a bad hop then allowed a second run to score before a lineout to Armstrong at short wrapped up the Husker win.
Nebraska and Oregon play game two of their Super Regional series on Sunday at 2 p.m. (Central) on ESPNU. If Oregon wins, game three will be played approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of game two.
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