Minneapolis - Freshman Mattie Fowler delivered a two-out, RBI single in the top of the eighth inning to lift the Nebraska softball team to a 5-4 extra-inning win at Minnesota in the series finale on Sunday.
Fowler's game-winning hit helped Nebraska salvage one win in the three-game series, after Minnesota won both games of Saturday's doubleheader. In a back-and-forth affair on Sunday, Nebraska had two separate leads in the first five innings, while Minnesota held a 3-2 lead after four innings.
After scoring twice in the top of the fifth, the Huskers were just four outs away from a victory before Tyler Walker hit a game-tying solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. That sent the game to extra innings and set the stage for Fowler's dramatics.
Junior Brooke Thomason began the top of the eighth inning with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Taylor Edwards. She was at third with two outs, before Fowler grounded a 1-0 pitch back up the middle and into centerfield for the game-winning hit.
Senior right-hander Ashley Hagemann made sure Fowler's RBI would hold up, as she struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth. Hagemann pitched well in relief, earning the victory to improve to 14-11 on the year. In 5.2 innings, Hagemann allowed one run on only two hits, while striking out 11. Sophomore right-hander Tatum Edwards earned the starts and allowed three runs on three hits in 2.1 innings.
Offensively, Fowler finished 2-for-4, while senior Nikki Haget added two hits of her own, including one of Nebraska's four doubles. Taylor Edwards added a double and two RBIs, while her twin sister Tatum scored twice.
The win helped Nebraska improve to 21-14 on the season, and the Huskers are now 4-2 in Big Ten Conference play. Minnesota fell to 21-10 with the loss and dropped to 3-3 in conference play. Sara Moulton (15-8) took the loss for the Gophers, allowing five runs on nine hits in a complete-game effort.
The Huskers scored twice in the top of the first inning to take an early lead. Haget led off with a double before a pair of one-out walks to Tatum Edwards and senior Ashley Guile loaded the bases. Minnesota then recorded the second out on a nice diving catch from center fielder Bree Blanchette. But Taylor Edwards made sure the Huskers wouldn't come up empty when she blooped a two-run double to right field.
But just as they did on Saturday, the Gophers had an answer in the bottom of the frame. Minnesota loaded the bases with none out before Kari Dorle delivered a two-run single to tie the game at 2-2. The Gophers had a chance to add to their lead with runners on first and second with none out and runners on second and third with one out, but Edwards worked out of the jam without allowing any further damage.
Minnesota then took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third. Edwards walked two of the first three batters in the inning and it cost the Huskers a run when Madie Eckstrom ripped an RBI double off Hagemann.
The Huskers answered in the top of the fifth. Junior Gabby Banda began the frame with a double down the left field line and Tatum Edwards followed with an RBI double to tie the game at 3-3. Tatum Edwards then moved up to third on a ground out from Guile before junior Brooke Thomason brought her home with an RBI single to right to give Nebraska a 4-3 lead.
Hagemann then worked around a hit batter and a walk in the bottom of the frame before Tyler Walker blasted a 3-2 pitch to right center for a two-out, game-tying home run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
In extra innings, Thomason began the top of the eighth with a walk. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Taylor Edwards and was at third with two outs before Fowler delivered an RBI single up the middle.
Nebraska returns to action on Friday with a doubleheader with Illinois at Bowlin Stadium.