Nebraska softball’s offense was uncharacteristically shut down in its loss to Indiana on Friday evening.
In the first game of the Huskers’ final regular season series, the Huskers hosted Indiana at Bowlin Stadium. The Hoosiers controlled the game throughout, winning 5-0.
Indiana freshman pitcher Heather Johnson dominated Nebraska’s offense all evening. She pitched all seven innings, allowing zero runs and just three hits. She struck out three Husker batters on her way to a dominant shutout victory.
Senior pitcher Olivia Ferrell got the start in the circle and also pitched all 7 innings. The Hoosier batters battled all evening, forcing her to throw 144 pitches. She allowed five runs on nine hits, but the loss can hardly be blamed on her performance.
“I thought [Ferrell] battled,” Nebraska softball manager Rhonda Revelle said postgame. “I didn’t think her being in was causing us to be where we were. I thought she was throwing pretty well.”
The Hoosier offense came out firing in the top of the first as Ferrell struggled to escape the inning. She amassed nearly 40 pitches in just the first frame as Indiana batters continually fouled off her pitches.
Junior right fielder Cora Bassett led off for Indiana with a slow, dribbling infield single. After an error and a steal, the Hoosiers had two runners on base for freshman left fielder Taylor Minnick. She brought two runs home with a single into center, handing Indiana an early 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first, senior second baseman Cam Ybarra led off with an infield single, just beating out the throw. Senior left fielder Peyton Glatter was hit by a pitch, putting two Husker runners on base with no outs. However, three straight outs ended the inning, leaving both stranded.
“We felt like we didn’t have a lot of good at-bats,” Revelle said. “We made a couple of errors in that first inning and we just let that bleed into the rest of our game offensively.”
Ferrell settled in as the game progressed. In the top of the third, she once again faced two runners on base with no outs. Two excellent infield plays and a strikeout ended the inning, keeping the deficit to 2-0. In the top of the fourth, the Huskers’ defense had a 1-2-3 inning.
Despite three scoreless innings from Nebraska’s defense, its offense struggled to get anything going. The Huskers were held to just one hit in the first four innings, with three hitless frames.
“The scoreboard isn't the issue,” Revelle said. “It’s all about the fight that you give. We didn’t have the fight that we normally have.”
The Hoosiers doubled their lead in the top of the fifth. After one batter was hit by a pitch, Minnick blasted a ball over the right-field fence. The two-run homerun gave Minnick her third and fourth RBI of the day, extending the Indiana lead to 4-0.
Sophomore third baseman Sydney Gray finally got another hit for the Huskers in the bottom of the fifth. She hit a blooper that dropped into center field for a single. However, two groundouts and a strikeout ended the inning as quickly as it started.
Ybarra attempted to start a Husker rally in the bottom of the sixth. She led off the inning with a single and Glatter followed by reaching on an error. The Hoosiers countered by turning a double play before ending the inning on an infield pop-up.
The Hoosiers added insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, before finishing off the Huskers in the bottom of the seventh. They rolled to a 5-0 victory, marking the Huskers’ first home loss since March 5.
“There are some distractions,” Revelle said. “They probably do think about the postseason a little bit and can we get there. You can’t be fully in the moment if you’re distracted by the postseason, senior day or anything else.”
The two teams will face off again on Saturday, May 6. The game begins at 4 p.m. and can be watched on Big Ten Plus.