Iowa City, Iowa – The Nebraska softball team saw its eight-game winning streak snapped with a 4-3 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes in game one of a Wednesday doubleheader at Bob Pearl Field.
It was a frustrating end to the overall winning streak and six-game Big Ten Conference winning streak for the Huskers (16-21 overall, 6-4 Big Ten). Three of the four runs that scored for Iowa reached base via a leadoff walk, and three of the Hawkeyes’ four runs scored with two outs. Offensively for Nebraska, the Huskers were just 3-for-12 with runners on base and scored only three runs in the first five innings despite having seven runners in scoring position.
The highlight of the frustrating day came in the top of the fourth inning, when Nebraska appeared to have taken its first lead of the game. Trailing 3-2 with a runner on base and two outs, sophomore Bri Cassidy launched a ball over the fence in left field. Junior Laura Barrow scored on the potential home run but Cassidy was ruled to have missed home plate on appeal.
Instead of having a 4-3 lead, the game remained 3-3 and it was all Hawkeyes after that. Nebraska got only one hit over the last three innings and the final nine Huskers were retired. Meanwhile Iowa had five hits after the fourth inning, winning on a RBI double from Kaitlyn Mullarkey with one out in the top of the seventh.
Iowa improved to 11-23 with the win and moved to 4-6 in conference play. Allison Doocy (7-9) earned the win, tossing a complete game and allowing three runs (one earned). Junior Kaylan Jablonski (8-11) took the loss for Nebraska, as the right-hander saw her five-game winning streak snapped. Jablonski allowed four runs on nine hits in 6.1 innings, striking out six and walking three.
Iowa jumped out to a 2-0 lead in bottom of the first. A leadoff walk and a double put runners on second and third with one out. Jablonski then coaxed back-to-back infield pop outs on consecutive pitches before Angela Schmiederer lined a two-out, two-run single to center field.
After stranding a runner at second base in the first inning, the Huskers left runners at first and third in the second inning following back-to-back singles from junior Taylor Otte and freshman Alexis Perry. Nebraska then tied the game with a two-run third inning. The bottom of the third started with a dropped pop up in shallow left field that allowed sophomore Alyvia Simmons to advance all the way to third base. Senior MJ Knighten then scored Simmons with an RBI triple down the right field line. Knighten scored the game-tying run two batters later on a sacrifice fly from Jablonski.
Iowa quickly regained the lead in the bottom of the third. For the second time in the game, a leadoff walk came around to score on a two-out base hit, and this time it was Brooke Rozier delivering an RBI single to center.
Nebraska then tied the game in the top of the fourth on Cassidy’s two-run homer turned RBI triple.
The Huskers then squandered a leadoff double in the fifth inning, marking the third time in five innings Nebraska stranded at least one runner in scoring position.
Nebraska was retired in order for the first time in the top of the sixth before the Hawkeyes nearly regained the lead in the bottom of the frame. In the bottom of the sixth, Iowa had a runner on second base with two outs when Claire Fritsch grounded a single through the right side. Pinch runner Havyn Monteer tried to score from second on the play but was thrown out at home plate by freshman right fielder Tristen Edwards.
The Huskers went down in order again in the top of the seventh before another leadoff walk led to the walk-off win for Iowa. A single followed the leadoff walk but Edwards threw out a Hawkeye attempting to advance to third on the hit. Iowa still had a runner at second with two outs, and that runner came home with the winning run one batter later on Mullarkey’s double off the left-field wall.
Iowa City, Iowa – A trio of unearned runs were the difference in the Nebraska softball team’s 5-2 loss to Iowa in game two of Wednesday’s doubleheader in Iowa City, as the Hawkeyes swept the Huskers in the twin bill.
Each of the final three runs Iowa scored were unearned, as Nebraska committed three errors in the game. Husker pitching held the Hawkeyes to just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and 0-for-4 with the bases loaded, but the errors proved too much to overcome.
Offensively, Nebraska struggled to string together hits against Iowa’s Shayla Starkenburg. The Huskers finished with seven hits – matching Iowa’s total – but Nebraska had only four at bats in the game with runners in scoring position. Starkenburg (4-9) earned the complete-game win, allowing two runs in 7.0 innings.
Senior Cassie McClure (7-7) took the loss for Nebraska, allowing five runs (two earned) in 5.1 innings. Freshman Sydney McLeod gave the Husker offense a late chance, as she entered the game with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth and allowed only one inherited runner to score. McCleod was credit with 0.2 shutout innings.
After losing both games of Wednesday’s doubleheader, Nebraska fell to 16-22 overall and 6-5 in Big Ten play. Iowa improved to 12-23 overall and 5-6 in conference play.
Nebraska jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Senior MJ Knighten singled with one out but was thrown out attempting to steal second. Freshman Tristen Edwards then followed with a single, and she scored on an RBI double from junior Kaylan Jablonski.
Iowa nearly answered the run in the bottom of the second. Brooke Rozier led off with a double, and she attempted to score on a single from Angela Schmiederer but was thrown out by sophomore center fielder Alyvia Simmons. The Hawkeyes had three hits – including a double – in the second inning but failed to score.
The Hawkeyes then tied the game in the bottom of the third on a pair of singles and an RBI ground out.
In the bottom of the fourth, Iowa used a pair of hits and two Husker errors to score three times to take a 4-1 lead. Two of the three runs were unearned.
Nebraska got a run back in the top of the fifth bunt missed a chance for more. Junior Laura Barrow led off with a single and one-out singles from freshman Alexis Perry and junior Austen Urness loaded the bases with one out. Simmons then scored junior Taylor Otte with an RBI ground out that cut the lead to 4-2 before the Huskers stranded runners at first and third.
Iowa tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. A walk, an error and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out and brought McLeod into the game. McLeod coaxed a ground out which Nebraska turned into an unconventional double play following a run down, but one run scored on the play.
The Huskers had one base runner in the top of the seventh before the Hawkeyes turned their own double play and a ground out ended the comeback effort.
Following its streak of eight consecutive Big Ten Conference road games, Nebraska returns home this weekend to host Penn State in a three-game series at Bowlin Stadium on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.