Behind a masterful performance from right-hander Emily Lockman and timely hits from Alicia Armstrong (1-for-2, 1RBI) and Mattie Fowler (1-for-3, 1 RBI), the 14th-seeded Nebraska Cornhuskers defeated third-seeded Oregon, 4-2, on May 26 to clinch a berth in the Women’s College World Series.
With the win, the Huskers (45-14) advanced to their sixth Women’s College World Series, where they will face Washington.
Both teams scored twice in the first inning. With one out, Gabby Banda got things going for Nebraska in the top first with a single. Taylor Edwards and Brooke Thomason followed Banda with singles of their own, to load the bases. Courtney Breault (1-4, 1 run scored and I RBI) then hit a ground ball to the right side, that got past the second baseman Kaylan Howard, turning an RBI groundout into two runs, as Edwards also scored from second on the play.
Oregon (50-11) answered in the bottom of the first as Janie Takeda (2-for-4) and Courtney Ceo (3-for-4) started the inning with base-hits of their own. Janelle Lindvale then drew a walk to load the bases. Following Lindvale’s walk, Samantha Pappas (2-for-3,2 RBIs) tied the game with a two-run single. The Ducks loaded the bases again but Lockman induced an infield pop fly and recorded a strike out to get of the jam.
The Huskers took the lead for good with two outs in the top of the third. Breault got the rally started with an infield single. Breault moved to third on a double by Decker (2-for-3, 1 run). Armstrong then brought Breault home when she beat out a throw for an infield hit.
Nebraska added an insurance run in the top of the sixth. Decker began the frame with another double. Armstrong sacrificed Decker to third base and wound up safe at first on an error by first baseman Kailee Ouico. Fowler followed with a clutch RBI single down the right field line, scoring Decker to give Nebraska a 4-2 lead.
Lockman (15-5) scattered eight hits in a complete game effort. She struck out five and walked one.
Jessica Moore (27-6) suffered the loss. She pitched the first three innings, struck out one, walked none, gave up seven hits, and two of her three runs allowed were earned. Cheridan Hawkins finished the game, allowing one run on two hits in four innings.
Other series news: Nebraska, the leading defensive team in terms of turning double plays, turned 5-4-3 double play to end game three. Pappas finished with her career with a school record 155 runs batted in. Nebraska won game one 5-2 on May 25 while Oregon took game two 4-3 in 11 innings on May 26.