Sophomore pitcher Kaylin Kinney did it all on Sunday afternoon for Nebraska softball.
In the circle and the plate, Kinney led the Huskers to a 9-0 win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. She pitched a nearly perfect game, allowing just one hit in the shutout. On offense, she added four RBIs on two hits, one of which was a three-run home run.
“This is just the second game of the year [Kinney] has started,” Nebraska manager Rhonda Revelle said postgame. “The fact that she had a complete game, a one-hit shutout. It was outstanding to see.”
The first score of the game came in the bottom of the second. With two outs, junior right fielder Peyton Glatter hit a ground ball that snuck into left field for a single. Sophomore utility Caitlynn Neal was then hit by a pitch, putting two on base.
Kinney brought both runners home with one swing of the bat. On a full count, she hit a home run off of the scoreboard in left field. The three-run blast gave the Huskers their first lead of the day, 3-0.
“It didn’t have the feeling of, oh yeah this is going over,” Kinney said about her homerun postgame. “Once I saw the flight on it, I was like ok. I think it might make it.”
The Scarlet Knights finally got their first hit in the top of the third. A single and a walk gave them their best scoring opportunity yet, but a groundout ended the inning.
The Huskers extended their lead in the bottom of the third. Sophomore third baseman Sydney Gray led off the inning with a single. Junior first baseman Mya Felder followed with her third home run of the season. The two-run shot extended the Nebraska lead to 5-0.
“Today it was just a complete game,” Revelle said. “Today, everything was clicking. That’s really nice to see on day three of playing the same team.”
Nebraska kept pouring on offensively. A walk and a hit batter put another two runners on base. With two outs in the third, Kinney added to her masterful performance with an RBI single to right field, keeping the offensive onslaught alive.
Another walk loaded the bases for senior second baseman Cam Ybarra. She singled into left field, bringing two runners home. Sophomore shortstop Billie Andrews was thrown out at home as she tried to make it three on Ybarra’s single. The Huskers finished the third inning with an 8-0 lead after scoring five runs on four hits.
“We’re just so calm and relaxed,” Kinney said. “Even if they score on us, we’re going to score more. We get gritty.”
Nebraska added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth. After two singles, freshman utility Ava Bredwell reached on a fielder's choice. A Rutgers throwing error allowed a run to score, extending the lead to 9-0.
Kinney finished off her excellent day with two strikeouts in the top of the fifth. Felder nabbed a line drive to first to end the inning and the game. The entire team embraced Kinney in the circle to congratulate her.
“This team, we’re just so close. I love every single one of them,” Kinney said. “We work so hard.”
The nine-run Husker advantage was enough for a run-rule victory. Their 10th win in a row capped off a weekend sweep of the Scarlet Knights. Nebraska remains undefeated in Big Ten play with the win and currently sits at the top of the Big Ten.
“Taking it one game at a time, one pitch at a time even,” Kinney said. “To have five [Big Ten] wins is an amazing feeling and we just have to keep it rolling.”
Next up, the Huskers will travel to East Lansing, Michigan for a series against Michigan State. The first of the three games is scheduled for Friday, April 8 at 5 p.m. The game can be watched on Big Ten Plus.