Gray Penn State

Sydney Gray (7) runs to home plate at Bowlin Stadium on Friday, March 26, 2021, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Nebraska softball team had a dominant performance on Saturday at Bowlin Stadium, defeating Penn State 8-2 and 10-2, respectively, in a doubleheader.

Nebraska senior second baseman Cam Ybarra had one of her best games as a Husker in the first half of the doubleheader. Ybarra was 3-for-3 at the plate, and hit her first home run as a Husker.

“I’ve hit home runs in my college career before, but never as a Husker,” Ybarra said postgame. “It was special to share that with the freshmen who also hit their first home run this weekend.” 

Freshman shortstop Billie Andrews also got her first home run as a Husker in the first game with a two-run blast in the fourth inning, which was followed by Ybarra’s solo home run.  

The Huskers’ offensive explosion in game one began in the third inning. Senior right fielder Tristen Edwards started off the inning with a double to right field, scoring after a triple by Andrews to give the Huskers a 1-0 lead. 

A single by Ybarra scored Andrews, and freshman third baseman Sydney Gray scored Ybarra after a line drive double to extend the lead to 3-0.

A single by junior right fielder Peyton Glatter drove in Ybarra, and the Huskers took an early 4-0 lead.The home runs by Andrews and Ybarra in the fourth inning extended the lead to 7-0. 

Penn State got its only runs of the game in the fifth inning. A double by freshman second baseman Melody Coombs scored junior right fielder Claire Swedberg, cutting the lead to 7-1. A line drive double by sophomore left fielder Maggie Finnegan scored Swedberg, and the Nittany Lions went into the bottom of the fifth trailing 7-2. The Huskers did not score any runs in the bottom of the fifth, and Penn State avoided the five-inning run rule.

Nebraska responded to Penn State’s brief comeback in the following inning. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, freshman utility Kaylin Kinney hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring sophomore Brooke Andrews, who was pinch running for Edwards after she was hit by a pitch. Penn State was unable to get a runner on base in the seventh, and an over-the-shoulder catch by senior first baseman Sarah Yocom ended the game with the Huskers winning 8-2.

After pitching her first career shutout in Friday’s game against Penn State, senior pitcher Olivia Ferrell nearly had her first no-hitter in the second half of the doubleheader.

In the bottom of the fifth, Ferrell was just one strike away from the no-hitter on two separate occasions. After a borderline strike was called a ball by the umpire, drawing jeers from the crowd, Penn State junior left fielder Lilia Krouthamel kept the at-bat alive and reached first off a throwing error. The next batter, Finnegan, was down 0-2 in the count, but hit a hard ground ball single to shortstop to break up the no-hitter. 

“I tried to not think about the no-hitter and stay at my own pace,” Ferrell said. “I did think about it a bit in the fifth inning, but I was more focused on the win.”

The Huskers were also dominant on offense in the second game, with eight different Huskers scoring runs. 

“It’s nice to see everyone being a part of our team offense,” Billie Andrews said postgame. “Hitting is contagious, so when one of us gets a hit, we all get hits.” 

The Huskers started their scoring in the first inning, with Edwards getting on base after being hit by a pitch, and advancing to second off a bunt single by Billie Andrews. A fielding error on a line drive by Kinney scored both Edwards and Billie Andrews, putting the Huskers up 2-0 early.

The Huskers’ most productive inning came in the fourth inning, scoring a season-high eight runs in the inning. 

Three straight singles to open the inning loaded the bases, and senior center fielder Riley Unzicker drove in the first runs of the inning with a double to the right field corner, scoring two and putting the Huskers up 4-0. The Huskers would score on the next four at-bats. 

A sacrifice fly by Yocom extended the lead to 5-0, then an Edwards double to right field scored Unzicker, making it 6-0. Billie Andrews got her fourth RBI of the game, scoring Edwards with a single. In the following at-bat, Ybarra drove Billie Andrews home with a single on the twelfth pitch of the at-bat, extending the lead to 8-0.

Gray doubled scoring freshman utility Caitlynn Neal, who was pinch running for Ybarra, and freshman infielder Camyl Armendariz, pinch running after a single by Glatter, and the Huskers went into the fifth up 10-0.

Penn State needed three runs in the bottom of the fifth to avoid the run rule. After two fly outs to start the inning, Coombs walked and became the first baserunner for Penn State since the second inning. 

Krouthamel reached first on an error, and Coombs scored on the no-hitter-ending single by Finnegan. Krouthamel kept Penn State’s hopes of extending the game alive, scoring on a passed ball to cut the lead to 10-2, but sophomore third baseman Michelle Leone flied out to end the game after five innings. 

Nebraska will finish the weekend series against Penn State on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Bowlin Stadium.

sports@dailynebraskan.com