STARTING PITCHERS UPDATE:
Nebraska - Courtney Wallace
Oklahoma St - Morgan Day (#3 starter, not Kelly Maxwell - see below)
WEATHER UPDATE - It’s 59 degrees with up to 28 mph gusts blowing in from left-center. The upside? This is Husker weather - feels like a March game in Lincoln. The downside? It will be a tall order to get one out of the park today except maybe one with tail to right. The Cowgirls’ speed may become a bigger advantage.
Prior to the winner’s bracket matchup with Oklahoma State, the Huskers decided to do their fans a favor following three days worth of serious stress issues in East Lansing. After subjecting Husker Nation to three comeback victories on the way to their first Big 10 Championship, they jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against the Mean (Joe) Green of North Texas (yes, Mean Joe did play his college football at then NTSU) and were never seriously challenged to be tied up behind a stellar performance by Olivia Ferrell and a shutdown save from Courtney Wallace. How did the pitchers enjoy working with a lead?
Said Ferrell, “When we got the two up on the board after the first inning, that helped me settle in and trust my stuff and hit my spots.”
“When we put up runs, you usually see that we don’t let up very many runs.”
Added Wallace, “Today I felt like we came out and struck first, and so the energy just stayed.”
Facing a doppelgänger of an opponent with whom they shared almost identically built lineups, pitching staffs and roads to their respective league titles (North Texas also won three straight as a 2nd seed), the Huskers did not look ahead. The similarities were not lost on Coach Rhonda Revelle.
“When they gave me the lineup sheet with everybody’s statistics, I mean from the pitchers right on through, (I thought) okay, this is an overlay. We could just change the names and it could be each other’s teams.”
On Friday, though, the Huskers were the bigger twin and senior captains Ferrell and Wallace had provided another 1-2 punch in the form of a 3-hit shutout.
PREVIEWING THE COWGIRLS
Similar to Nebraska, the top of OSU’s order will feature five .300 hitters with high OPS. While the Huskers have a little more power, the Cowgirls come with more speed. Nebraska has been very good in the field at getting out of innings unscathed with runners in scoring position. That skill may be tested today as Okie State will steal bases and run aggressively.
Sydney Pennington - .329 - .975 - 10 - 42 - 29
Chelsea Alexander - .333 - .849 - 1 - 8 - 24 (16 steals and .437 OBP)
Pitching-wise, expect Kelly Maxwell to start. She is not a huge innings eater with Miranda Elish and Morgan Day also seeing extensive work, but I’ll let Maxwell’s season line speak for itself.
Kelly Maxwell - 17-4 - 1.28 ERA - .89 WHIP - 153.1 IP - 248 K-57 BB
OSU defeated Michigan 4-0
(Husker 3-0 record vs. Michigan)
OSU 2-0 vs. Minnesota (Huskers 3-0)
Both 1-0 vs. North Texas
OSU 3-0 vs Wichita (Huskers 2-0)
OSU 3-0 vs Kansas (Huskers 2-1)
Reviewing the five common opponents indicates this game may be closer than the respective RPI’s - OSU #7 and Nebraska #28 - suggest.
THOUGHTS FROM FRIDAY
- From a purely selfish standpoint, I simply cannot be happier with the way the weather has played out for the weekend. When I left Omaha early Friday morning it was 90 in Stillwater and, according to Gavin Lang, Oklahoma State’s Ass. AD of Communications, it was humid and miserable. However, the cool front which had temps in Omaha in the high 50’s followed us down. The high is expected to be around 60 today and 70 tomorrow. I’m at the outside press table and couldn’t be more grateful.
- In addition to the shots which helped create their 3 runs, the Huskers had many other hard-hit outs off North Texas ace Ashley Peters. They appear to be in a good place to have a chance at getting to Maxwell.
- After facing Bailey Parshall, Lexie Handley and Alex Storako in East Lansing, Maxwell will still be very hard to hit - but there won’t be a shock value there. The Huskers are no strangers to big arms now.
- This is a big game rest-wise for whomever wins. The loser will play again at 8:00PM tonight while the winner can relax the rest of the day and turn in early before tomorrow’s 3:00 and potentially 5:30pm games on Sunday.
- Again - extremely selfishly - I would love the rest of the day off.
- Why not a little more adrenaline just for the heck of it? (Once again, it goes better with earbuds/stereo). Here’s some Hawkeye and Kate Bishop:
“I’ve trained for this for as long as I can remember.”