An eight-run first inning powered the Nebraska softball team to a 14-6 run-rule victory over Michigan State on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Bowlin Stadium.
The Huskers, who recorded double-digit runs for the third consecutive home game and for the school-record 12th time this season, continued a pair of win streaks while securing a series victory over the Spartans. Nebraska (14-12 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) won its 13th straight home game and 12th consecutive conference game at Bowlin Stadium.
Junior right-hander Emily Lockman earned a win in relief for the second straight day to even her record at 7-7 on the season. Lockman allowed only one hit – a solo home run – in 2.1 innings. Freshman right-hander Kaylan Jablonski earned the start and allowed five runs (four earned) in 2.2 innings.
Offensively, the top two hitters in the Husker order – junior Kiki Stokes and sophomore MJ Knighten – fueled another impressive hitting performance. Stokes went 1-for-1 with three walks, a grand slam and a career-high five RBIs out of the leadoff spot. Batting second, Knighten produced her second career four-hit game, finishing 4-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
The Huskers had four hits, drew two walks and were hit by two pitches while jumping out to the early 8-0 lead. Nebraska loaded the bases when Stokes walks, Knighten singled and junior Alicia Armstrong was hit by a pitch. Sophomore Cassie McClure then drove in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly to center. Senior Steph Pasquale was hit by a pitch to force in another run and give Nebraska a 2-0 lead. Senior Kylee Muir followed with an RBI single before sophomore Kat Woolman reached on an RBI fielder’s choice.
Leading 4-0, freshman Laura Barrow drew a two-out walk to load the bases before Stokes lined a 3-2 pitch over the fence in right for a grand slam that doubled the Huskers’ lead to 8-0.
Michigan State got one run back in the top of the second on an RBI single from Ellie Stoffer.
The Spartans then capitalized on a Husker error to pull within 8-5 in the top of the third. A two-out NU error extended the inning and loaded the bases before Kassidy Kujawa hit a pinch-hit grand slam.
The Huskers answered back in the bottom of the frame. A pair of walks and an error loaded the bases with no outs. Stokes then drew a bases-loaded walk to score Woolman and give Nebraska a 10-5 lead. Knighten followed with a single that scored freshman pinch runner Gina Metzler. Armstrong then reached on an error that pushed the Huskers’ lead to 11-5.
Nebraska took a 12-5 lead with another run in the bottom of the fourth. Woolman and junior Mattie Fowler began the frame with consecutive singles. Following a double play, Stokes walked to load the bases before Knighten collected her fourth hit with an RBI single.
The Huskers then wrapped up the run-rule victory with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Pasquale began the frame with her second home run in as many games before Muir and Woolman drew back-to-back walks. Fowler then ended the game with an RBI single that scored freshman pinch runner Taylor Otte.
Bridgette Rainey (1-4) took the loss for Michigan State, which fell to 15-14 on the year and 0-2 in conference play.
Nebraska and Michigan State wrap up their three-game series on Sunday at Noon.