After defeating Fordham 5-3 in the Stillwater Regional’s first elimination game, North Texas Coach Rodney DeLong had already decided 6’2” freshman Skylar Savage would be making the start when they turned around immediately to again play for survival against the Cornhuskers.
“(Coach) told me before the Fordham game that i was most likely going to start the Nebraska game. I just prepared mentally throughout the Fordham game and in the bullpen just prepared myself for this game,” said Savage afterward.
The preparation worked out as Savage (15-7) shut out the Huskers while striking out seven and walking only two while scattering 3 hits over a complete game seven innings. She was never in serious trouble as Nebraska only managed to advance a runner to 2nd base twice in the game.
Asked about her thoughts on the mound, she said, “I was staying calm and trusting all my pitches. Being confident with my changeup and my drop ball, just trusting myself.” Coach Delong added that control of her change-up was key after struggling with it during the regular season.
There was some controversy in the 3rd inning as highly questionable umpiring (read “somewhere between utterly incompetent and willfully biased”) allowed North Texas an unearned run on a play where Mya Felder clearly touched 1st base ahead of the UNT runner on a great effort by Cam Ybarra to run down a grounder far to her left. An umpire conference and then (somehow) a video replay challenge upheld the ridiculous ruling.
Regardless of that foolishness, however, the Huskers couldn’t get their bats going against the impressive Savage. Courtney Wallace was dominant at times striking out 6 in 3 2⁄3 innings but three doubles given up led to the 2 other runs. Olivia Ferrell was a lone bright spot retiring seven of the eight batters she faced in relief.
The Huskers ended their 2022 season with a 41-16 record and the school’s first Big Ten Softball Championship.
(Please check Monday for a final review and thoughts on the Stillwater Edition of the Corn Nation Softball Road Trip)