The 14th-seeded Nebraska Cornhuskers and 11th-seeded Washington Huskies will meet in the first game of the 2013 College Softball World Series on May 30, starting at 12 p.m., EDT.
Nebraska (45-14), the lowest remaining seed, earned a spot in the field by winning two of three games against third-seeded Oregon in last week’s NCAA Super Regional in Eugene, Ore. Washington (43-15) is making their 11th World Series appearance in program history and is 5-0 in the tournament this year.
This game pits two pretty evenly matched teams. The Huskers has an advantage in the circle while the Huskies have a slight edge in hitting, power and defense.
A quick look at the two teams:
Nebraska has relied on pitching, defense and timely hitting to advance this far. The Huskers boast the nation’s ninth-best era at 1.78. Behind the pitching staff, the Nebraska defense ranks 35th nationally with a .970 fielding percentage, and the Cornhuskers have turned a nation-leading 48 double plays.
From a hitting standpoint, Nebraska is batting .312 (24-for-77) with runners on base in the NCAA Tournament and .339 (19-for-56) with runners in scoring position. For the season, the Huskers are hitting .288 with 56 home runs and average 5.2 runs.
Washington has seven players batting over .300 and they are hitting .309 as a team while averaging 5.9 runs per game. The Huskies rank among the top 30 offenses nationally in scoring (23rd), average (24th) and slugging percentage (28th). However, Washington has scored two runs or less in four of its five NCAA Tournament games, averaging 3.0 runs per game in the postseason.
The Huskies are allowing an average of 2.7 runs per game, but they allowed just two runs in their five NCAA Tournament games (0.4 runs per game).Washington boasts the nation’s second-best fielding percentage at .981. The staff owns a 2.56 era that ranks 58th nationally.
The rest of the article will look at the key players from both teams.
The junior pitcher/outfielder will likely be the leadoff hitter no matter whether she is on the mound or starting in left field.
Edwards, the Big 10 Pitcher of the Year, is 30-9 with a 1.81 ERA in the circle this year. She threw 10 shutouts and recorded 214 strikeouts in 240 innings of work. Edwards earned her 30th victory versus Oregon in the Super Regionals (May 25), which is the fourth most in Huskers history. This postseason, she has posted a 4-1 with a 1.62 era in 39.0 innings.
Edwards is a dangerous hitter, it and it is this hitting ability that got her selected to the All-Big 10 first team.
Edwards is currently hitting .294 with 11 home runs, 11 doubles and 26 doubles. She has hit in seven straight games and is 5-for-19 (.262 avg.) with four runs scored and three RBIs this postseason. Edwards ranks fifth on the school’s all-time home run list with 32.
The senior is in her third year as a starter at third base and is the Huskers’ number two hitter. Banda, a 2013 Big Ten All-Defensive Team selection, is currently hitting .284with five doubles and 20 RBIs. She has hit in 11 consecutive games and is batting .368 (7-for-19) with six runs scored and two runs batted in this postseason.
Banda drew her school-record tying 40th walk (fourth most in the nation) of the season against Stanford in the Lincoln Regional. Batting in front of a pair of 50-RBI producers, she has excelled at reaching base for the middle of the Husker lineup. In addition to her 40 walks, Banda has been hit by eight pitches, helping her post a .448 on-base percentage.
Defensively, Banda committed only two errors in 79 chances at third base during Big Ten play, posting a .975 fielding percentage. She has not committed an error in the NCAA Tournament this season.
The junior catcher is the twin sister of Tatum and will likely bat in three hole vs. Washington. Edwards is the only All-American catcher in school history and was an All-Big 10 first team selection this season. She is currently hitting .322 with 12 home runs, 14 doubles and 52 runs batted in. Edwards’ 52 RBIs is the most ever by a Nebraska junior and she has 157 career RBIs, which ranks fourth on the school’s all-time list.
Defensively, Edwards was selected to the conference’s All-Defensive team. She committed only three errors, had four passed balls and threw out 17-of-46 base stealers (37 percent).
Edwards is among the top players in the country and ranks in the top one percent of all current college softball players in three categories. Entering the WCWS, Edwards ranked 22nd among all active players with 109 career walks (32 walks this season), 28th with 157 RBIs and 49th with 35 home runs.
Edwards is hitting just .200 (5-for-20) with four runs batted in this postseason.
Other key Huskers:
Emily Lockman: If Tatum Edwards doesn’t start in the circle it will be Lockman. The freshman threw a gem versus Oregon in the third game of the Super Regionals limiting the Ducks to just two first inning runs. For the season, Lockman is 15-5 with a 1.74 ERA.
Brooke Thomason:The senior right fielder is a two-time All-Big 10 (2012 and 2013) selection and is the Huskers’ cleanup hitter. Thomason is currently hitting .335 with 9 home runs. 12 doubles and a team-high 56 runs batted in. She ranks second in school history with 175 RBIs and third with 78 extra-base hits and 35 homers. She is the first player in school history to produce four 30-RBI seasons and is just the fifth Husker with 30 career doubles and 30 homers.
Alicia Armstrong: The freshman shortstop earned second-team All-Big Ten honors this spring and a spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive squad. Armstrong, who is leading the squad with a .474 average during the postseason, hit .347 (team high) with nine doubles and four home runs the regular season.
Armstrong has committed just nine errors this season.
Mattie Fowler: While Thomason has been Miss Consistent, Fowler has been Miss Clutch. Fowler has 10-game winning RBIs in her career. She is currently hitting .245 with 4 home runs and 21 RBIs.
The junior has been a very valuable dual threat for Washington, when she is not pitching Inglesby is the Huskies designated player. Inglesby was an All-PAC 12 selection and a finalist for the USA Softball’s Player of the Year in 2013.
Inglesby, who generally bats third in the Huskies lineup, is currently hitting .361 with eight doubles. She led the team with 11 home runs and 60 runs batted in, which ranks 31st in the nation.
In the circle, Inglesby is 22-7 on the season with a 1.87 ERA in 168.1 innings of work. She has completed 12 of her 18 starts, which includes four shutouts, and has recorded 130 strikeouts while limiting opposing hitters to a .228 average.
Inglesby has been great during the NCAA Tournament at the plate and in the circle. She is 4-for-11 with four runs batted in and four walks, which includes a 3-for-3 performance against Hawaii in Regional finals.
Inglesby has gone 1-0 with one save in three postseason appearances in the circle. She has thrown 15 innings, allowing eight hits and just two runs.
The junior right-hander is a power pitcher. Walker was the winning pitcher in both of the Huskies Super Regional games. For the tournament, she is 4-0, which includes a no-hitter against Hawaii in the Regional finals. Walker has recorded 31 strikeouts, surrendered five hits in 19 innings of work.
In game one of the Super Regional versus Missouri, Walker relieved Inglesby in the top of the sixth inning and threw two scoreless innings. She struck out two of the six batters she faced. Walker also induced three fly outs and a ground out.
In game two, Walker carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. However, she then gave up hits to the first two batters in the top of sixth before being relieved by Inglesby. Walker’s surrendered two hits, struck out four and walked four in five innings of work.
Overall, Walker has posted a 19-7 record with a 2.81 ERA in 172 innings. She has struck out 196 batters and has limited opponents to a .217 average.
The junior right field leads the team is several offensive categories. Hayward, an All-PAC 12 selection in 2013, is hitting .380 with five triples and 21 stolen bases. She also has six doubles, five home runs and 21 runs batted in, from the leadoff spot.
Hayward, who has hit in four consecutive games, is 6-for-13 (.461) at the plate during the NCAA Tournament with two runs scored and two runs batted in. She was 4-for-6 with two runs scored and two runs batted in against Missouri in the Super Regionals. Hayward had the Huskies only two hits of game two of the Super Regionals, which included a first inning solo home run against the Tigers to account for the Huskies lone run. She also had the game-winning RBI in game one of the Super Regionals.
Hayward has been a member of the Canadian National Team since 2009.