Huskers gain extra inning win in opener
West Lafayette, Ind. - On a day when timely hits were not falling for the 18th-ranked Nebraska softball team, a seventh-inning home run from Tatum Edwards forced extra innings and a ninth-inning home run from Courtney Breault completed the comeback, as Nebraska won game one of a Saturday doubleheader at Purdue, 5-2.
The Huskers trailed 2-1 entering the seventh inning, after going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position through the first six innings, including twice failing to produce a run-scoring hit with runners on second and third and only one out. But with nobody on base, Edwards lined a one-out solo home run to right center to tie the game at 2-2.
Nebraska failed to score a runner from third base with only one out again in the ninth inning, before Breault's blast powered the Huskers to the win. In the top of the ninth, sophomore Mattie Fowler got things started with a one-out single. Tatum Edwards followed with a single to put runners on first and second. Breault then stepped to the plate, with the Huskers 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. She jumped ahead in the count 3-1 and took a strike before blasting a 3-2 pitch over the fence in left for the go-ahead three-run homer.
That was the support that Edwards needed, as she closed out the win by retiring the Boilermakers in order in the bottom of the ninth, including a pair of strikeouts. Edwards improved to 21-6 on the year by allowing only one earned run and surrendering just four hits in a career-high 9.0 innings. Edwards added 10 strikeouts, while working around five walks.
With the win, Nebraska improved to 33-9 on the season and moved to 11-3 in Big Ten Conference play. The Huskers also improved to 4-0 in extra innings this season, while winning their sixth straight extra-inning game dating back to 2012. Nebraska also picked up its 12th road victory of 2013 - tying for the second-highest total in school history - while winning a game in its final at bat for the ninth time this season.
Lexy Moore (8-10) took the loss for Purdue, which fell to 20-24 on the year and dropped to 7-8 in conference action. Moore pitched well for most of the game and allowed five runs (four earned) on 10 hits in 8.1 innings.
Nebraska took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning with help from a Purdue error. Senior Brooke Thomason began the frame with a leadoff single, before freshman Hailey Decker walked. Fowler moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, before a strikeout marked the second out of the inning. Breault then hit a ground ball to short that got past Paris Andrew for a run-scoring error.
Purdue tied the game in the bottom of the frame on a one-out single to right center. The Boilermakers, who stole three bases in the inning, missed a chance to take the lead, stranding runners on second and third.
The Huskers got runners to second and third with one out again in the top of the third. Sophomore Jordan Bettiol worked a leadoff walk, before freshman Alicia Armstrong singled. Senior Gabby Banda moved the runners to second and third with a bunt. But junior Taylor Edwards was retired on a hard ground out for the second out, before Thomason lined a ball right at the center fielder to end the inning.
Purdue then grabbed a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth. A leadoff single and an error put runners at first and second before Taylor Edwards picked off the lead runner. A ground out marked the second out before Andrew delivered a two-out RBI double to left center.
After failing to make much noise in the late innings, Tatum Edwards tied the game with her seventh-inning solo home run.
Tatum Edwards then walked Andrew to begin the bottom of the seventh, before striking out the next two hitters. But a two-out walk and a wild pitch put runners at second and third before Ashley Burkhardt lined a changeup into center field - only the Boilermakers' third ball hit out of the infield. But freshman center fielder Kiki Stokes was there to make the catch and end the inning.
Armstrong then led off the top of the eighth with a double and moved to third with one out on another sacrifice bunt from Banda. But for the third time in the game, the Husker offense did not execute with a runner on third and less than two outs. Taylor Edwards grounded out to third on the first pitch she saw for the second out, before Thomason grounded out to short on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
Purdue then squandered a leadoff single in the bottom of the eighth before Breault's big home run won the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Breault finished 1-for-4 in the game with three RBIs and her second home run of the season. Armstrong was 3-for-5, while Tatum Edwards was 2-for-4 with her ninth home run of the season and a pair of runs scored.
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