Huskers can't buy a timely hit
Lincoln - A pair of timely hits from Wisconsin and a slew of missed offensive opportunities cost the 18th-ranked Nebraska softball team in a 5-2 loss to the Badgers on Saturday afternoon at Bowlin Stadium.
Nebraska led 2-1 in the top of the sixth, despite stranding at least one runner in scoring position in each of the first five innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the third, fourth and fifth innings. While the Huskers were having a hard time taking advantage of multiple scoring opportunities, Wisconsin created its own chance and delivered back-to-back clutch hits in a four-run sixth inning.
Down by one, Wisconsin had a runner at first and two outs. But Stephanie Peace delivered a game-tying RBI double before Shannel Blackshear took Husker reliever Tatum Edwards' first pitch deep to right center for a go-ahead two-run homer. The Badgers then added another two-out run thanks to an infield single, a pair of walks and a Husker error.
The Huskers had plenty of chances to build a bigger lead heading into the sixth inning. Nebraska stranded a runner in scoring position in each of the first two innings, before the Badgers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third despite not hitting a ball out of the infield.
Nebraska got a runner to second base with less than two outs for the third straight inning in the bottom of the third, as sophomore Jordan Bettiol led off with an infield single before stealing second. Bettiol moved to third with one out on a sacrifice bunt from freshman Kiki Stokes before senior Gabby Banda lined a ball right at the third baseman for the second out. Junior Taylor Edwards then lined a 2-0 pitch to the gap in right center field for an RBI double that tied the game at 1-1. A pair of walks then loaded the bases with two outs, before sophomore Mattie Fowler lined out to left, the second Husker to hit a hard line drive right at a Wisconsin fielder.
The Huskers stranded three more runners in the bottom of the fourth. Freshman Alicia Armstrong and Bettiol reached on a consecutive one-out singles. A fielder's choice put Huskers at the corners with two outs, before Stokes stole second to put runners at second and third. Banda then walked to load the bases before a foul out ended the threat.
Nebraska then took the lead with a two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth. Decker worked a leadoff walk, before senior pinch-hitter Courtney Breault reached on a two-out walk. Armstrong then lined a 2-2 pitch just fair down the third base line for an RBI double that gave NU a 2-1 lead. Bettiol was then hit by a pitch before a strikeout left the bases loaded for the third straight inning.
Stranding the bases loaded for the third straight inning cost the Huskers when Wisconsin scored four times in the top of the sixth to rally for the win. Nebraska stranded 11 runners in the game, and the Huskers were retired in order in both the sixth and seventh innings after falling behind.
Bettiol finished 2-for-2 and was hit by a pitch, while Armstrong was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Lockman (10-3) took the loss for Nebraska, which fell to 29-9 and 7-3 in Big Ten Conference play. Lockman allowed three runs on five hits in 5.2 innings, while striking out seven. Tatum Edwards allowed two runs (one earned) in 1.1 innings of relief.
Cassandra Darrah (17-4) earned the win for Wisconsin, which improved to 29-7 and 7-4 Big Ten action. Darrah tossed a complete-game, working around six hits and six walks to allow only two runs.
Nebraska and Wisconsin wrap up their three-game series on Sunday at Noon.
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