A slow start cost the 22nd-ranked Nebraska softball team a chance at an upset on Friday, as a first-inning grand slam powered 19th-ranked Oregon to a 4-2 victory at the Cathedral City Classic.
Nebraska trailed 4-0 until the fifth inning, when the Huskers cut the lead in half with a pair of runs. But Nebraska, who had already overcome a pair of four-run deficits this season, couldn't complete the comeback, as its five-game winning streak was snapped.
Senior right-hander Ashley Hagemann (4-3) took the loss for Nebraska, which fell to 8-4 on the year. In a complete-game effort, Hagemann allowed four runs on four hits, striking out eight and walking five. After walking four and allowing two hits and four runs in the first, Hagemann settled down to allow only a pair of infield singles and no runs the rest of the way. Over her final 5.0 innings, Hagemann allowed only three runners to reach base, and she retired the final 10 hitters she faced.
In the bottom of the first, a pair of walks and an infield single loaded the bases with one out, before Kaylan Howard launched a 2-1 pitch over the left-field fence for a grand slam that gave Oregon a 4-0 lead five batters into the game. Howard's grand slam was the only ball the Ducks hit out of the infield over the first three innings and one of only three balls hit to the outfield all game.
Nebraska's first real scoring threat came in the top of the fourth, when sophomore Taylor Edwards began the inning with a single and her twin sister Tatum reached on a one-out single to put runners on first and second. But Moore escaped the inning by coaxing ground balls from the next two batters.
Then in the fifth, freshman Jordan Bettiol was hit by a one-out pitch, before senior Nikki Haget followed with an infield single to put runners on first and second. Oregon pitcher Jessica Moore came back with a strikeout, before Taylor Edwards took a 1-2 pitch the opposite way to right center for a two-out, two-run single that cut the lead to 4-2.
After being retired in order in the sixth, freshman Mattie Fowler reached on an error to begin the seventh. But Moore worked around the error, retiring the next three hitters to wrap up the victory.
Moore (3-2) earned the win for Oregon, which improved to 4-2. Moore tossed a complete game, allowing two runs on four hits.
Taylor Edwards finished 2-for-2 with a walk and a pair of RBIs in her return to her home state to lead Nebraska. The hits were even at four each.
Nebraska returns to action at the Cathedral City Classic tomorrow, facing Cal Poly at 2 p.m. (Central) and 11th-ranked Missouri at 4:30 p.m. (Central).
Courtesy: Nebraska Media Relations