Unzicker Penn State

Nebraska's Rylie Unzicker (1) bats during the game against Penn State at Bowlin Stadium on Friday, March 26, 2021, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Huskers welcomed fans back to Bowlin Stadium with a victory on Friday, defeating Penn State 9-0 in five innings. 

The home opener was the team’s first home game in nearly two years, and fans were permitted to attend.

“It was exciting because it’s been so long, especially after the final pitch where you can see everybody clapping,” senior pitcher Olivia Ferrell said postgame. “It was so exciting knowing they were here for the team.” 

Ferrell got her first career complete game shutout in a dominant performance over five innings. She allowed just three hits with seven strikeouts and no runs allowed. The shutout was the first by the Huskers since April 27, 2019 against Maryland.

The nine runs mark a new season-high for the Huskers, with the previous high being eight against Purdue. The offensive momentum began in the bottom of the second inning, when freshman third baseman Sydney Gray and freshman shortstop Billie Andrews hit consecutive singles to lead off the inning. 

Junior catcher Anni Raley drove in two runs with a triple to left field, aided by a big hop off the lip between the infield dirt and the outfield. A groundout by freshman left fielder Caitlynn Neal scored Raley, putting the Huskers up 3-0. 

Gray continued her hot start in the third inning, hitting her first career home run to put the Huskers up 4-0. 

“It was pretty high, and with the wind in Bowlin I was a little worried that it would hit the top or they could catch it at the fence,” Gray said. “Once I saw it go over and my team started cheering it was a great feeling.”

Junior right fielder Peyton Glatter hit her first home run of the season in the bottom of the fourth. Pinch hitting for senior center fielder Rylie Unzicker, who exited the game with a hand injury after being hit by a pitch in the second inning, Glatter hit a two-run shot to center field putting the Huskers up 6-0. She was previously hitless in her 14 at-bats this season. 

“They put in a right-handed pitcher, so Peyton was my choice to get that righty-lefty matchup,” head coach Rhonda Revelle said. “Plus both Peyton and pitcher Logan Black are from Omaha, so they were familiar with each other.”

Nebraska’s bats struck again in the fourth inning when freshman utility Kaylin Kinney hit her first career home run with a three-run blast that cleared the left-field scoreboard, extending the Husker lead to 9-0. Nebraska’s three home runs on Friday were more than Penn State had given up all season entering the game, as the Nittany Lions previously only allowed one through 12 games. 

The nine-run advantage gave the Huskers a chance to end the game early in the fifth inning, with NCAA softball rules calling the game if a team is up by eight or more runs after five. Junior infielder Claire Swedberg doubled for Penn State, hoping to spark a Nittany Lion rally, but Ferrell retired the next three batters to end the game.

Nebraska will be back at Bowlin Stadium on Saturday for a doubleheader against Penn State, with the first game starting at noon. 

sports@dailynebraskan.com