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CN Huskers Softball Road Trip: Big Ten Tourney Preview

First up are our good friends, the Nittany Lions of Penn State. What can we expect?

Nebraska v Illinois

Nebraska vs. Penn State
Big 10 Softball Tournament
2nd Round
11AM Thursday
TV: B1G Network
Streaming: Fox Sports App

There’s no way sugarcoat the fact 2021-22 has been an incredibly rough season for the Husker men’s football, basketball and baseball teams. Real hope for a bowl game in football instead resulted in the strongest 3-9 team in NCAA history. Becoming the first 10-or-less-win team in over 50 years with back-to-back wins against top 20 teams couldn’t hide another disappointing hoops season. And what started with CWS hopes for the baseball team has instead become a battle to just make the conference playoffs.

For the women, it’s been another story. The basketball team defeated top 10 teams, became ranked and qualified for the NCAA tournament.

And the Huskers softball team finished the regular season 37-14 with a 17-5 record in Big 10 play, good enough for 2nd place in the conference and a first round bye in the conference tournament.

Despite catching them on the Big Ten Network, I figured it was well past time to load up the car, stock up on Propel and coffee, head for East Lansing, Michigan, and check this squad out in person starting today as they open play with a 2nd round game against 7th-seeded Penn St. who needed extra innings to knock off 10th place Indiana in 1st round action on Wednesday.

Why Nebraska Will Win:

— The Huskers are an offensive juggernaught leading the conference in batting average, HR’s, RBI’s, slugging and OBP. Penn St. outside of catcher Cassie Lindmark hitting .401 is a relatively weak-hitting line-up.
— They also had the conference’s lowest ERA.
— They’re never out of it with 16 come from behind wins this season.

Why They Might Not

Conference play was very tight this season with no dominant squad.
— The Huskers stumbled some near the end of the season with a 2-5 stretch following a 13-0 conference start, before closing with 2 straight wins against Indiana.
— Penn St. starter Bailey Parshall is 22-8 with a 1.62 ERA. She might keep the Lions in it single-handedly.

The Huskers and Nittany Lions did not meet during the regular season but here are their records against common conference opponents:

Michigan (4th)

Huskers 3-0
Penn St 1-2

Rutgers (13th)

Huskers 3-0
Penn St. 2-1

Wisconsin (8th)

Huskers 1-2
Penn St. 1-2

Ohio State (6th)

Huskers 1-2
Penn St. 1-1

Indiana (10th)

Huskers 2-1
Penn St. 3-1

Huskers To Watch

Billie Andrews - The sophomore shortstop leads the Huskers in HR’s, RBI’s, Total Bases, Runs & Stolen Bases.

Olivia Ferrell - Today’s likely starter is 18-6 with a 2.17 ERA, 152 K’s in 155 innings, 16 complete games and 5 shutouts. (Correction: Courtney Wallace listed as the starter)

Finally, congratulations to the following Huskers for receiving the following conference honors. The Huskers tied Northwestern for most all-conference selections with seven:

1st Team All Big Ten

Abbie Squier - So. - OF
Cam Ybarra - Sr. - 2B

2nd Team All Big Ten

Billie Andrews - So. - SS
Mya Felder - Jr. - 1B
Olivia Ferrell - Sr.- P

Big Ten All Freshman Team & FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

Ava Bredwell - Fr. - C

Big Ten All Defensive Team

Mya Felder
Cam Ybarra
Abbie Squier
Courtney Wallace - Sr. - P

Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Honoree

Karlee Seevers - Sr. - P