Despite keeping it close in all three games, Northwestern softball (20-27, 7-12 B1G) was swept by Nebraska (24-25, 13-7 B1G) in this weekend’s three game series.
In the first game Friday night, Nebraska jumped to a 2-0 lead in the fourth when third baseman MJ Knighten hit a two-run homer to left, breaking the pitcher’s duel that had been going on up to that point. The Cornhuskers doubled their lead in the fifth thanks to an RBI double by centerfielder Alyvia Simmons and a hit batter by ‘Cats pitcher Kaley Winegarner that brought home a run.
Down 4-0, the ‘Cats appeared to be out of it, but a furious sixth inning rally made things interesting. After Sabrina Rabin reached second on a Nebraska error, Marissa Panko brought her home with an RBI single. Two batters later, Sammy Nettling hit a two-RBI double to cut the lead to one, but it wasn’t enough as Nebraska shut down the ‘Cats the rest of the way.
In game one of Saturday’s doubleheader, Nebraska effectively ended the game in the first inning, putting up six runs on pitcher Morgan Newport, who only recorded one out while giving up six earned runs. Newport only gave up three hits, but she also walked a batter and hit two more. She left three runners stranded, all of whom scored on two Nebraska singles.
Playing from behind, NU managed to get on the board in the fourth when Morgan Nelson scored on a throwing error by Knighten to make it 6-1. Nelson also added RBI singles in both the fifth and seventh, but NU’s attempt at a comeback wasn’t enough as they ultimately lost 7-4. Kenzie Ellis pitched pretty well in relief, giving up just one earned run in 5.2 innings, but it wasn’t enough to make up for Newport’s rough outing.
In game two, Nebraska again jumped out to an early lead, scoring in each of the first two innings on a sac fly by Kaylan Jablonski and a solo homer by Taylor Otte. In the third, however, Nelson plated another run on a single, and Ellis added a two-RBI single of her own to give Northwestern their first lead of the series. Ellis struck again in the fifth with an RBI double to expand the lead to two, but it unfortunately didn’t last.
Nebraska scored an unearned run on Nelson’s fifth inning error, and on a ground ball-single deep behind second base, Jablonski plated the tying run with one out in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. A pinch-hit RBI groundout by Gina Mitzler walked off the ‘Cats in the eighth, giving Nebraska the 5-4 win and completing the series sweep.
The ‘Cats next play Illinois in a doubleheader on Tuesday before their final regular season series at Iowa next weekend.