After playing 25 games away from home over the past five weeks, the Nebraska softball team hosts its first home game of the season on Tuesday at 5 p.m. against South Dakota.
Fans can purchase tickets for the home opener online at Huskers.com, over the phone by calling 1-800-8-BIG-RED or on the day of the game from the Bowlin Stadium ticket office, located behind home plate at the main entrance to the stadium. Tickets are $7 for reserved seating and $5 for general admission seating, which includes one section of chairback seats. Fans with a ticket to the Husker baseball game receive admission into the softball game for $1, while all students eighth grade below will be admitted into Tuesday’s game for free.
Those fans unable to make it out to Bowlin Stadium on Tuesday can follow the action online. Veteran softball play-by-play announcer Nate Rohr will call the game for free on Huskers.com and live stats will also be available.
The Huskers have played games in five different states over the past five weeks, and their 25 games are the most games any team from the Big Ten Conference has played this season. Following the matchup with the Coyotes, Nebraska will take this weekend off before resuming the mid-week schedule next Tuesday and hosting its first-ever Big Ten series against Northwestern next Friday and Saturday.
Nebraska is coming off a 3-1 record in Stillwater, Okla., last weekend that moved the Huskers’ overall record above .500 at 13-12. NU’s offense got back on track for the most part last weekend, scoring 28 runs in only four games. The Huskers averaged seven runs per game last weekend and hit .360 as a team. Nebraska also hit for power, slugging nine doubles, one triple and three home runs to post a .560 team slugging percentage. While the Huskers’ totals were impressive, they were dampened a bit as Nebraska was no-hit and had just one base runner in its lone loss of the weekend, a 2-0 setback to host Oklahoma State, which advanced to the 2011 Women’s College World Series.
In the circle, senior right-hander Ashley Hagemann led Nebraska to one of its best pitching performances of the season. The Huskers allowed only four total runs in four games last weekend, including just a pair of earned runs. Nebraska posted shutouts in two of its four games and owned a 0.61 ERA. Opponents hit just .174 against Nebraska and produced only four extra-base hits - all doubles - in four games. Hagemann led the way by posting a 2-1 record with a 0.70 ERA in 20.0 innings. She added 20 strikeouts and allowed only 14 hits, including six infield singles.
Scouting South Dakota (4-18)
South Dakota is 4-18 this season, after the Coyotes won two of three games in their first-ever Summit League series at UMKC over the weekend. USD won the final two games over the Kangaroos after having lost five straight and 11 of 12. South Dakota and Nebraska share one common opponent this season in Idaho State. The Huskers rallied from a four-run deficit to post a 12-4 run-rule win over the Bengals, while South Dakota fell to ISU, 6-4. Three of USD’s four wins this season have come in true road games.
South Dakota has struggled statistically this season. The Coyotes are hitting just .225 as a team, but have hit 10 home runs in 22 games. USD is scoring an average of 2.5 runs per game, while allowing 5.8 runs per contest. The Coyote pitching staff owns a 5.56 ERA and opponents have scored eight or more runs five times against USD.
Offensively, Katie Dinning, a freshman from Omaha, is the only Coyote hitting above .300. Dinning is batting .351 this season and leads the team with three doubles, three triples and 10 runs scored. Alexa Rudeen is batting .268 and leads South Dakota with three home runs and 12 RBIs. Lindsey Boyd paces the Coyotes with nine walks 10 stolen bases in only 11 attempts.
In the circle, South Dakota has utilized a three-pitcher rotation this season. Erica Denney has started a team-high nine games and posted a 1-8 record with a team-low 4.50 ERA. Missy Blackburn has made a team high 15 appearances and thrown a team-high 58.0 innings, compiling a 3-5 record with a 5.31 ERA. Lincoln native Paige Policky (0-5, 7.85 ERA in 30.1 IP) rounds out the Coyote staff.
Amy Klyse is in her fifth season at South Dakota and owns a career record of 98-121-1. She has guided the Coyotes to three straight 20-win seasons and her 2012 roster features four native Nebraskans.
Nebraska is a perfect 7-0 all-time against South Dakota, sweeping a doubleheader at Bowlin Stadium each of the past three seasons since South Dakota began competing as a Division I program. NU is also 38-0 all-time against the four Division I Dakota softball programs (North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota, South Dakota state) and 54-0 all-time against members of the Summit League.
The Huskers also opened their home season against South Dakota last season, sweeping a doubleheader by scores of 14-0 in five innings and 6-5. In the opener, Nebraska scored in each of its four turns at bat, plating four runs in the first, two in the sixth, six in the third and two in the fourth. The Huskers pounded out 12 hits in the win, as five players produced two hits each. Tatum Edwards and Ashley Guile also doubled and drove in four runs apiece.
Game two was much closer. South Dakota scored two runs in both the first and second innings, only to see Nebraska answer with three runs in the bottom of each frame. But after allowing six runs over the first two innings, Erica Denney shut out the Huskers rest of the way, as her offense trimmed the lead to one before Ashley Hagemann came on and earned the save for the Huskers. Taylor Edwards provided the big blow in game two with a three-run homer.
Individually, Ashley Hagemann went 1-0 with a save against South Dakota last season, tossing 7.0 scoreless innings of two-hit ball and striking out 14. The dominating performances came after Hagemann posted a 3.77 ERA in three combined appearances as a freshman and sophomore against the Coyotes. Offensively, six current Huskers own a career batting average of .400 or better against South Dakota.
Nikki Haget is 6-for-11 (.545) in her career against USD with six runs scored, two RBIs and two stolen bases. Ashley Guile (7-for-14) and Tatum Edwards (3-for-6) are each batting .500 against the Coyotes, with Guile producing two doubles and seven RBIs and Edwards adding a homer and four RBIs. Gabby Banda is 4-for-9 (.444) in her career against USD with a double and a pair of RBIs, while Taylor Edwards is 2-for-5 (.400) with a homer and four RBIs. Megan Southworth is also 2-for-5 against South Dakota with one double.
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few statistics and brief notes of interest as the Huskers host their home opener on Tuesday against South Dakota.
• Nebraska owns an all-time record of 424-247 (.632) in the month of March. The Huskers have posted a winning month of March for 16 straight seasons dating back to 1994, but NU is 4-5 to open March this season.
• Fourteen of NU’s 25 games this season have come against teams ranked or receiving votes.
• The Huskers have committed 35 errors and allowed 26 unearned runs through 25 games this season. In 55 games last year, Nebraska committed 43 errors and allowed only five unearned runs.
• Through five games this season, Nebraska had allowed more unearned runs (9) than it did all of last year (5).
• Thirty-seven of the 99 runs Nebraska has allowed this season have scored on home runs (37 percent).
• Nebraska has issued 90 walks this season and hit 19 batters, ranking 10th in the Big Ten in walks and hit batters.
• Thirty-three of the 99 runners who have scored against Nebraska this season reached base by a walk or hit-by-pitch (33 percent).
• Nebraska is 13-12 this season, and the Huskers are only two losses from matching their entire loss total from last season, when NU went 41-14.
• Overall, batters who have walked or been hit by a pitch score an average of 1.3 runs per game this season.
• Combining Nebraska's 90 walks, 19 hit batters and 28 errors where the hitter should have been retired, the Huskers are "giving" the opponent nearly one free base runner per inning.
• Ashley Hagemann enters Tuesday’s game needing four strikeouts shy of becoming the fifth pitcher in school history to reach 800 career strikeouts.