By Steve Beideck
LINCOLN – Some of the lessons learned from a loss Saturday helped the Nebraska softball team rebound for an impressive 12-4 victory Sunday in a fall ball game against Creighton.
Though Jordyn Bahl struck out 13 and scattered four hits in a complete-game effort against South Dakota State, the Huskers dropped a 1-0 decision after hitting into a pair of inning-ending double plays.
Nebraska coach Rhonda Revelle said the Huskers left at least nine base runners stranded in that game played at the Urban Youth Academy in Kansas City. Nebraska defeated Missouri-Kansas City 6-1 Saturday before dropping the second game to the Jackrabbits.
“If we can play it right, we can play our losses as lessons,” Revelle said. “The team was genuinely ecstatic for her (Bahl) pitching such a great game. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a pitcher get that many strikeouts in a game.”
But Revelle made sure everyone understood that Bahl and the other pitchers on Nebraska’s staff are going to need run support to make those kinds of performances meaningful.
That the Huskers left only six runners stranded against the Bluejays on Sunday shows the message is getting through. Three of those LOBs came in the first two innings before the Nebraska bats began to heat up in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Creighton took its lone lead of the game with the score tied 1-1 after three innings before a crowd of 698 at Bowlin Stadium. Bahl, who was 3 for 3 with one run scored, drove in NU’s first run in the bottom of the first inning.
Former Omaha Burke standout Emma Rosonke tied the game in the top of the second when her single to left field was just out of the reach of Huskers third baseman Sydney Gray.
That allowed Erika Kanetzky, who was pinch running for Alyssa Gappa after she was hit by a pitch, to score from third and tie the game 1-1 with an unearned run.
Creighton then scored two more unearned runs in the fourth inning following an error by Nebraska center fielder Brooke Andrews. The Huskers responded with five runs in the bottom of the fourth to regain the lead for good at 6-3.
Bahl, who played left field until coming in to pitch the final two innings, led off the fourth with a single to center field. Purdue transfer Bella Bacon was then hit by a pitch, and Dakota Carter came in to run for her. Caitlynn Neal then singled to short left field to load the bases.
Starting pitcher Emmerson Cope drove Bahl in with a single down the right field line to keep the bases loaded. Andrews then laced a 1-out single to center field that drove in Neal and Alina Felix, the courtesy runner for Cope, to put the Huskers ahead 4-3.
Then with two outs, second baseman Katelyn Caneda reached base on an error, driving in shortstop Samantha Bland, who reached on a fielder’s choice. Gray plated Andrews with the fifth run of the inning on a sacrifice fly to right field.
Creighton scored once in the fifth inning before the Huskers erased any hope of a comeback by the Bluejays with six runs in the bottom of the sixth. The big hit was a 3-run home run by Ava Bredwell to right-center field that scored Bland and Gray.
Revelle was equally pleased with how the Huskers pitchers performed. All four hurlers saw action, with Caitlin Olensky getting the win and Bahl the save.
Cope and Olensky both scattered three hits and threw 24 and 27 pitches, respectively. Sarah Harness pitched the fifth inning and had one strikeout while throwing just 17 pitches.
Bahl gave up a single to the leadoff batter in the sixth inning before shutting down the next six Creighton batters in a row with a fly out to left, a ground out to shortstop and four strikeouts on 27 pitches.
“They didn’t have any walks, which is always appreciated,” Revelle said. “That was really good to see.”
Nebraska wraps up the fall season with four games Saturday and Sunday in the Big Red Classic at Bowlin Stadium. Nebraska will play games Saturday against Colorado State (10 a.m.) and South Dakota (12:30 p.m.) before a Sunday doubleheader with the Rams beginning at 10 a.m.
“The Colorado State series is three games, like we will be playing when the conference season begins,” Revelle said. “That will be a good chance to work out how we will approach those kinds of series.”
Creighton…010 210 0 – 4 9 2
At Nebraska…100 506 x – 12 12 2
W-Caitlin Olensky. L-Kenzie Schopfer. Save-Jordyn Bahl. 2B-N, Peyton Cody. HR-N, Ava Bredwell. A-698.