Nebraska softball suffers worst loss in program history against Minnesota
LINCOLN — A season of struggles continued Friday night for the Nebraska softball team with the biggest loss in the 42-year history of the program.
Minnesota handed Nebraska its worst loss ever with a 16-0, five-inning drubbing in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams before an estimated crowd of 150 at Bowlin Stadium.
Only two times before — and not since 1994 — have the Huskers given up double-digit run totals in back-to-back games.
Twice in the ’94 season, when Nebraska was playing in the Big Eight Conference, the Huskers lost 11-3 and 10-0 to Kansas in Lincoln.
Later that season, NU dropped 11-1 and 11-0 decisions at Oklahoma State. After falling 7-3 to the Cowboys in the third game of the four-game series, Oklahoma State won the finale 13-2.
The only other time that happened was in 1977 when the Huskers lost three straight — two to Northwest Missouri State (10-0, 14-2), followed by a 10-0 loss to UNO.
Friday’s loss to the No. 8-ranked Gophers also was the biggest margin of defeat Nebraska has had to any opponent and matched the most runs ever given up in one game. Nebraska lost to Iowa 15-1 in five innings in 1997, and New Mexico State beat Nebraska 16-11 in 2015.
It was a quick team huddle after the game for the Huskers, who have a chance to bounce back at 1 p.m. Saturday, the second game of the three-game series. NU coach Rhonda Revelle said she didn’t expect the team to dwell long on how the 26th game of the season turned out for the 8-18 Huskers.
“There’s not a lot to say after a game like that,” Revelle said. “The message was just continue to stay together and that I was proud of them that I could hear them the whole game and they still had a really good spirit about them.”
The Huskers didn’t get a base runner or hit until there were two outs in the bottom of the third against Sara Groenewegen, the Golden Gophers’ two-time All-America pitcher.
But Nebraska’s struggles started long before that as there were few positives to find from the Huskers’ offense, defense or pitching performances.
Minnesota out-hit the Huskers 15-3, but only two of those 15 hits went for extra bases — a double by right fielder Sam Macken and a three-run home run by third baseman Danielle Parlich. Those two combined to go 4 for 6 with eight runs scored and seven RBIs.
Nebraska was playing from behind just a few pitches into the game. Two errors on one play — by first baseman Alexis Perry and right fielder Tristen Edwards — gave the Golden Gophers a 1-0 lead after two batters.
The Huskers got out of the top of the first giving up just one more run, but Groenewegen got the Huskers’ hottest hitters — Alyvia Simmons, MJ Knighten and Edwards — out in order in the bottom of the inning.
Minnesota then got four more runs off Husker starter Kaylan Jablonski, who left the game after two innings having given up five hits and four walks, but only three earned runs.
Groenewegen again set the Huskers down in order in the second before the Gophers scored five times in the top of third off relief pitcher Caitlin Bartsch. One of those runs was unearned from the third of Nebraska’s four errors.
Nebraska finally got a base runner when Groenewegen issued a two-out walk to Laura Barrow in the bottom of the third. The Huskers followed with singles by Simmons and Knighten to load the bases before Edwards grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.
“At the plate we’re facing a first-team All-American and I think we came out swinging,” Revelle said. “This has happened to us a few times this year, but when you come out and give up so many runs early and you’re facing a great pitcher, it’s like you start in such a hole that it’s, I don’t know, it’s a different energy.”
Five more runs in the fourth inning put any hope of a comeback out of reach and shifted the focus to bouncing back on Saturday.
Minnesota (26-2, 1-0)……………….245 50—16 15 0
At Nebraska (8-18, 0-1)………………000 00— 0 3 4
W: Sara Groenewegen, 12-1. L: Kaylan Jablonski, 3-10. 2B: M, Sam Macken. HR: M, Danielle Parlich. A: 150 (est.).