Nebraska beat Purdue for the third day in a row, this time 4-2 on a breezy Sunday afternoon.
Junior pitcher Sarah Harness got the start in the circle and went to work early in the game, striking out the first three batters of the game to end the top of the first inning quickly. This gave Nebraska confidence early, as the offense was able to take the lead in the bottom of the first.
“[Sarah] is very capable,” Nebraska head coach Rhonda Revelle said postgame. “I was just happy for her when came out and had that kind of success.”
Following Harness’ stellar first inning, junior shortstop Billie Andrews led off with a walk before junior right fielder Caitlynn Neal singled off a bunt to put runners on first and second. A dropped infield fly advanced the runners to second and third, putting them in scoring position. Junior third baseman Sydney Gray then hit a sacrifice fly out to deep right field to send Andrews home. While a strikeout followed to end the inning, leaving Neal on third, the Huskers took the early 1-0 lead heading into the second.
Harness walked the leadoff hitter, sophomore third baseman Olivia McFadden, leading a sacrifice bunt which advanced her to second base. Purdue freshman right fielder Jordyn Ramos then singled up the middle to advance McFadden to third before a sacrifice fly brought her home to tie the game up 1-1. Harness brought the inning to a close with a fly ball by the next batter.
Junior center fielder Brooke Andrews hit a leadoff single to start the bottom of the second inning. Two outs ensued, but Andrews did advance to second. The inning looked like it was coming to a close until sophomore catcher Ava Bredwell hit a deep ball down the right field line for a triple, scoring Andrews to give Nebraska a 2-1 lead.
“As a catcher, I'm able to recognize pitches a little bit earlier,” Bredwell said postgame of her triple. “Seeing it out of her hand can be really helpful for me.”
Harness walked the first two batters to start the top of the third inning, but the defense came to her aid. Two pop flies and a grounder led to three straight outs to maintain the Huskers’ lead. Nebraska only recorded one hit in the bottom of the fourth, but it was the biggest of them all. Senior first baseman Mya Felder smashed a home run into left field way past the fence to extend the lead 3-1.
In the top of the fourth, Nebraska made its first pitching change after a single and a walk put runners on first and second with one out for the Boilermakers. Wallace subbed in on the mound and kept Purdue from scoring with a strikeout after a fielder’s choice to keep the Huskers’ 3-1 lead. While the Huskers didn’t score in the bottom of the fourth, Wallace brought it home for Nebraska. When Purdue scored in the top of the fourth after three straight singles, the Huskers answered right back with three straight singles of their own to put the lead back at two runs — 4-2. Neither team scored in the final two-and-a-half innings.
The combination of Harness and Wallace held Purdue to just two runs on six hits, combining for six strikeouts. Wallace picked up the win, moving her record to 14-5 on the season.
“I thought it was a great effort on the mound by the combination of Sarah and Courtney,” Revelle said. “I think they both came in and did what they do.”
Nebraska is now 23-9 overall and remains undefeated at home (4-0) and in conference play (3-0) after the season sweep of Purdue. The Huskers will be back in action on March 28 at Iowa with a double-header against the Hawkeyes.