Huskers blank Badgers 4-0

Lincoln - Behind a three-hit shutout from junior right-hander Tatum Edwards and a four-run fifth inning from the Husker offense, the 18th-ranked Nebraska softball team defeated Wisconsin, 4-0, in Friday's series opener at Bowlin Stadium.

Edwards took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, finishing with her Big Ten-leading seventh shutout of the season. Edwards struck out seven and allowed only two balls out of the infield all game, while improving to 18-6 on the year.

Offensively, Nebraska produced three of its six hits in the four-run fifth inning. Junior Taylor Edwards and freshman Hailey Decker each recorded RBI singles in the inning. Edwards finished 2-for-2 with a walk, a run and an RBI, while senior Gabby Banda was 2-for-3 with a run scored. Sophomore Mattie Fowler also added an RBI for the Huskers, who improved to 29-8 overall and moved into a second place tie in the Big Ten standings with a 7-2 conference record.

Wisconsin, which was shut out for just the second time this season, fell to 28-7 on the year and 6-4 in Big Ten play. Meghan McIntosh, the reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, took the loss, falling to 8-3 on the year. In 5.0 innings, McIntosh allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits.

Wisconsin didn't pick up its first hit until a one-out bunt single from Maria Van Abel in the top of the fifth inning. Mary Massei was then hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second before Tatum Edwards retired the next two hitters.

In the bottom of the frame, freshman Alicia Armstrong led off with an infield before classmate Kiki Stokes walked. Banda then put down a sacrifice bunt and Wisconsin elected to try and get Armstrong going to third, but the throw was late. With the bases loaded and no outs, Taylor Edwards gave Nebraska a 1-0 lead with an infield single, as third baseman Shannel Blackshear made a nice diving stop, but had no play on any of the baserunners. Following a strikeout, Decker made it 2-0 with an RBI single through the left side.

With the bases loaded, Fowler hit a ground ball to the right side that was misplayed by the second baseman, allowing two more runs to score as the Huskers grabbed a 4-0 lead.

The Badgers hit their first ball to the outfield and got their first runner to third base in the top of the sixth, but Edwards got out of the jam with a ground ball back to the circle.

NU nearly added to its lead in the bottom of the sixth. A two-out error and a stolen base put Stokes at second base, before she was thrown out attempting to score on a single from Banda.

Tatum Edwards would not need any more runs however, as she worked around a leadoff single in the top of the seventh inning to preserve the shutout.

Nebraska and Wisconsin meet again at 1 p.m. on Saturday for game two of their three-game series.

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