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HUSKERS SOFTBALL Moves On: A Stillwater Regional Preview

After a strong start, the Husker season finished on the downside of a rollercoaster run. If recent history plays on, we’re heading back up this weekend. Right? Right???

The Huskers couldn’t defend their 2022 title. Can their 2023 squad move farther?
Andy Ketterson

Another year, another trip to the Stillwater NCAA regional for the Nebraska Cornhuskers softball squad. They return most of their big bats, one of their 2022 aces, only missing another B1G tournament title, same story, different year…amirite?

Well, no.

Besides the fact they enter the regional this year at 34-20 with a 4th place finish and 3rd place finish in the tournament as opposed to 40-14, a 2nd place finish and the B1G trophy in ‘22, the road to the regional was vastly different this season.

(Checks the schedules from both years. Slaps forehead.)

As it turns out, they were similar - kind of.

  • Entering the home stretch - 2022 Nebraska 36-9. 2023 Nebraska 25-12 against a very tough early schedule.
  • 2022 Nebraska finish - 4-5 in final 3 series; 3-0 in Big 10 Tourney; 1-2 in Stillwater Regional.
  • 2023 Nebraska finish: - 7-2 run through April 23; 2-6 run through May 12 including the Big 10 tourney; (Stillwater regional?).

The biggest difference this season is they are now a #3 seed who will open as visitor to a ranked Wichita St. squad who defeated them twice this season - instead of as a #2 seed home squad to North Texas.

The Huskers entered Selection Sunday allegedly on the bubble after an 8-0 B1G semifinal loss to Northwestern which dropped them from #37 to #39 in the RPI rankings but, no, I never really sweated them being dropped out. And, oddly, a mid-week doubleheader sweep of now regional #3 seed UNO back in mid-March may have helped keep that RPI steady in the closing days during their slide.


So here’s the karma/superstition pick: this is a battle-tested Husker group and their rollercoaster is now scheduled to shoot skyward at this regional. Courtney Wallace has had the occasional struggle this season, but has more often come through again and again when they’ve needed her. Like Olivia Ferrell in 2022 , she is playing her Covid 6th season and also like Liv, she became a 20-game winner in that season. Also, her 2022 co-captain is now a grad assistant coach. These ladies have enough heart for a pride of lions and are still together.

In addition, Billie Andrews, Brooke Andrews and frosh Katelyn Canada lead a lineup which again had some of the heaviest bats in the Big 10. The idea of the Huskers coming out with two quick W’s against the Shockers and the Cowgirls, whom they both played close in games this year, is not as unthinkable as it may seem. If that happens, anything is possible.


For those who like to look for upset specials? Wichita State is a combined 4-0 vs. Okie State and the Huskers this season. Just sayin’. Sorry, but I do want to be honest with my gambling-diseased friends.

So anyway, a quick preview of teams in the regional including key players and games.

And now as always: Go Big Red.


34-20 Overall 13-10 Big 10, 4th place (14-7 in neutral site games), #3 seed

Key Players

Billie Andrews - .356 15HRs 27RBI 5SB .436OB% .678SLG% 1.114OPS
Katelyn Canada - .373 2HR 33RBI .422OB% .903OPS
Brooke Andrews - .331 11HR 44RBI .617SLG% .998OPS
Mya Felder - .317 9HR 35RBI .549SLG% .941OPS
Courtney Wallace - 23-14 3.45ERA 3SV 205IP 126K
Sarah Harness - 10-5 3.32ERA 103IP 91K

The Huskers were 2nd in the conference in batting average and 3rd in HR’s and slugging%. Pitching-wise, they were 9th in ERA but 3rd in shutouts and 5 in batting avg against. They open Friday night at 6PM against the Shockers who swept them earlier this season.


43-10 Overall, 16-2 AAC, 1st place (8-2 in neutral site games), #2 seed

Key Players

Sydney McKinney - .519 5HR 32RBI 16SB .560OBP .727SLG% 1.287OPS
Addison Barnard - .373 14HR 35RBI 21SB .466OB% .760SLG% 1.226OPS
Alex Aguilar - 14-2 1.54ERA 104IP 58K
Lauren Howell - 18-4 2.32ERA 130IP 86K
Alison Cooper - 11-4 2.96ERA 108IP 54K

McKinney and Barnard lead a potent offense whose top 5 hitters all own an OPS over 1.000. They can throw any of the three pitchers, none of whom will overpower but succeed by keeping hitters off-balance and limiting baserunners.


41-14 Overall, 10-8 Big 12, 3rd place (11-2 in neutral site games), #1 seed

Key Players

Rachel Becker - .457 3HR 24RBI 10SB .564OB% .660 SLG% 1.224OPS
Kiley Naomi - .355 10HR 53RBI 12SB 1.079OPS
Kelly Maxwell - 14-5 1.89ERA 122IP 197K
Lexi Kilfoyl - 12-5 2.02ERA 114IP 112K

The Cowgirls finished 3rd in the brutal Big 12 but would have won most other conferences in the country. Seven of their hitters batted over .300 and they have not one but two pitchers who bring smoke, especially Maxwell who averages 11.3 K/7 innings.


26-15 Overall, 15-4 America East, 1st Place, Conference Tourney Champs (0-1 in neutral site games), #4 seed

Key Players

Madison Wilson - .337 8HR 27RBI 1.010 OPS
Ashley Della Guardia - .328 7HR 23RBI .582SLG% .953OPS
Kya Matter - 13-5 1.77ERA 126.2IP 126K
Courtney Coppersmith - 8-2 1.79ERA 82IP 123K

The lineup is solid and, like the Cowgirls, UMBC has a couple of strikeout artists. If they can be effective against the #5 team in the country, the opener could be an interesting matchup. Working against them is the fact they only played outside of Baltimore in 11 of their 41 games. This will also be an extreme jump up in competition level - the Retrievers might be in over their head a little this weekend.