Three home runs fuel Huskers in victory over Wichita State
Junior MJ Knighten scored three runs, including her 11th home run of the season, and the Nebraska offense had a productive afternoon in a 10-5 win over Wichita State at Bowlin Stadium on Sunday. The win secured a series victory for the Huskers, as they won two out of three games against the Shockers during the weekend, their first home series victory of 2016.
The Huskers notched 11 hits and scored in all but one inning, while scoring in double digits for only the second time this season. Nebraska improved to 12-4 on the year with the victory.
After falling behind 2-0 in the top of the 1st, the Huskers got on the board quickly in the bottom of the frame. Knighten was hit by a pitch to lead off, and Kaylan Jablonski followed that up with a single. Senior Alicia Armstrong then singled into right field, giving Knighten her first run of the day and earning the Huskers their first of 10 RBIs.
After a Cassie McClure walk loaded the bases, senior Mattie Fowler’s grounder to right center field drove in two more runs, giving the Huskers their first lead at 3-2.
After the Shockers notched a double play, sophomore Madi Unzicker ended the 1st inning with a 2-out RBI double that scored Fowler, giving Nebraska a 4-2 lead heading to the 2nd.
Knighten’s 11th homer of the year was a two-run shot to right center in the bottom of the 2nd, putting the Huskers up 6-2.
At the top of the 3rd, the Shockers rallied after McClure, the starting Nebraska pitcher, walked three of the first four batters to load the bases with only one out. Senior Emily Lockman stepped in the circle to try to get the Huskers out of a jam.
The only hit Lockman allowed came against the first batter she faced, junior Macklin Hitz, who drilled an RBI single into left field. That was followed by a wild pitch and an RBI ground out by freshman Cassidy Kelsheimer. The Shockers made it a 6-5 contest by the middle of the 3rd, plating three runs on only one single. That’s as close as Wichita State would get for the rest of the contest.
The Huskers quickly regained the lead in the bottom of the 3rd after Unzicker hit a solo-shot home run to left field, the second homer of the game for Nebraska. Sophomore Laura Barrow followed that up with a 2-out RBI single to score classmate Taylor Otte, giving the Huskers an 8-5 lead.
After a scoreless 4th inning, the Huskers extended their lead yet again after sophomore Austen Urness tallied her first home run of the season and the third of the afternoon for the Huskers. It was 9-5 through five innings.
The Huskers wrapped up their busy day of scoring in the 6th when junior Lotte Sjulin notched her first career hit, an RBI-double that scored Knighten for the third time in the game.
The Shockers were unable to rally in the 7th after senior Liz Broyles grounded out to seal the win for Nebraska. Wichita State failed to bring across a run in the final four innings. Lockman was solid in 4.2 innings of relief for the Huskers, allowing only one hit, tossing two strikeouts and only one walk.
Senior starting pitcher Ashlynne Neil took the loss for Wichita State, bringing her record to 1-1. Neil faced only four batters before being pulled, giving up one walk, two hits, three runs and failing to record an out. The loss puts the Shockers at 9-8 on the season.
Nebraska’s next challenge will be in Tempe, Arizona, at the Easton Tournament. The Huskers will play five games from March 11-13, starting with James Madison on the 11th. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. central.