An eight-run fourth inning propelled the Nebraska softball team to a 10-0 five-inning victory over Dayton on Saturday in the Huskers’ season opener inside the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
After scoring in double figures just once in 53 games a season ago, the Huskers scored 10 runs in their first game of 2009. Under the direction of first-year hitting coach Diane Miller, Nebraska pounded out 14 hits in only 22 at bats, as nine Huskers had a hit, nine scored a run and eight produced an RBI.
With the offense clicking, senior right-hander Molly Hill picked up her first victory of the year. Hill tossed a five-hit shutout, striking out seven and walking just one in five innings. Eva Rappe (0-1) took the loss for Dayton (0-1). Rappe allowed two runs in three innings, before the bullpen surrendered all eight fourth-inning runs.
Nebraska’s offense tallied five hits through the first three innings but produced only two runs. Senior Crystal Carwile gave Nebraska an early 1-0 lead with a great at bat in the bottom of the first inning. Carwile swung and missed at the first two pitches, but fought to work the count full. She then ripped a towering home run to center. Carwile reached on a fielder's choice in her next plate appearance, but was injured on the basepaths and did not return.
The Huskers added another run in the third when senior Brittany Pascale lofted a one-out fly ball to center field with the bases loaded for a sacrifice fly.
After flirting with big innings through the first three frames, Nebraska finally exploded in the eight-run fourth inning. After new pitcher Allie Falk retired the first batter she faced, the Huskers rattled off six straight singles, including RBI hits from sophomores Julie Brechtel and Kelli Linke and seniors Darcy Rutherford and Meghan Mullin. After the barrage, the Huskers had scored four runs and still had the bases loaded with two outs.
Senior Haley Long kept the rally going with a two-run single, before junior Whitney Barrett ripped another two-run single to put the Huskers in front 10-0. Hill then worked out of a one-out bases-loaded jam in the top of the fifth to preserve the shutout.
Leading Nebraska to the run-rule victory were multi-hit efforts from Rutherford, Mullin, Long and Barrett. Rutherford was 3-for-3 on the game, while the other three each had two hits. Long and Barrett also added multi-RBI games, finishing with two RBIs each.
Nebraska is currently facing North Dakota in its second game of the day.