Guess what time it is? That’s right, it’s Nebraska Softball time and I know we’re all excited for it. Nebraska sets their sights on Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, hoping to get off on the right foot.. or left, whichever one.
Puerto Vallarta College Challenge
The Huskers will play four games in three days in Mexico, they will face two top 15 teams in their first two games. Nebraska will first square off with #7 Washington on Thursday at 6:30 pm (Central) and then #11 Duke on Friday at 12:30 pm (Central). The Red Team will also see Long Beach State on Friday at 3:00 pm (Central) and finally will finish their games on Saturday with Utah Valley at 10:30 am (Central).
All games during the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge can be watched on FloSoftball ($) by purchasing a subscription. A monthly subscription is $29.99, while an annual one is $150.
The Huskers are returning all but three players from last year, when Nebraska went 36-22. NU made the NCAA Tournament in 2023, advancing to the regional final to post a top 20 national finish while receiving votes in the final top 25 poll.
It was probably no surprise that the Huskers were already getting ranked in the preseason or maybe it was, regardless, it’s real and it’s happening. Nebraska received a ranking in all four major polls; 13th (D1 Softball), 15th (Softball America), 17th (ESPN.com/USA Softball), and 18th (NFCA). The Huskers will start of the season ranked 18th, which is the first time since 2018 Nebraska has earned a preseason ranking.
Billie Andrews, Jordy Bahl, and Katelyn Caneda all received individual preseason rankings as well. Andrews, a senior shortstop, was ranked the No. 42 (D1 Softball) and No. 56 (Softball America) Overall Player in the country as well as the No. 5 (D1 Softball) and No. 6 Softball America) Shortstop in the country. Bahl, the Oklahoma transfer, was ranked the No. 2 player nationally and No. 2 pitcher in the country, was named to the preseason watch list for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, and was also tabbed as a preseason first-team All-American by D1 Softball and Softball America. Caneda, only a sophomore, was ranked the No. 9 second baseman in the country by D1 Softball.
Like stated before, Nebraska is returning a good majority of their team from last year and are adding quite the newcomer class. Here’s a look at what Nebraska is returning.
Abbie Squire, who unfortunately will miss the 2024 season due to injury, was still named one of the captains for the year. Coach Rhonda Revelle had this to say about Squire, “Abbie’s an even better leader this year than she was a year ago just simply by the work she’s put in.” Revelle also added, “That she (Squire) is leading every way she can and is intent on making a difference for the team.”
Billie Andrews, is back after leading Nebraska with 16 homers, 29 extra base hits, 50 runs, 28 walks, a .677 slugging average, and a .441 on base percentage. Andrews is sixth in school history in extra base hits and seventh in homeruns.
Katelyn Caneda, returns after leading NU with a .366 batting average in 2023. That average was the third highest mark by a freshman in school history, while Caneda was the first freshman to lead in average since 2013.
Brooke Andrews led Nebraska in RBIs with 45 last season and was second on the team with a .575 slugging percentage.
Caitlynn Neal hit .307 last season and led NU with 14 doubles.
Sydney Gray is a career .305 hitter, she batted .313 in 2022 with eight doubles, 11 homeruns, and 45 RBIs.
Ava Bredwell, who was the 2022 Freshman of the Year, hit .285 last season and was second on the team with 36 runs scored.
Sophomores Talia Tokheim, Alina Felix, and Ashley Smetter are back after being productive despite limited action in their freshman season. Tokheim hit .359 with 10 extra base hits in only 39 at bats before an injury ended her season. Felix started 10 games and hit .259 and scoring seven runs. Smetter was 3-for-8 in limited at bats with one double.
Dakota Carter, Mckinley Malecha, Abbey Newlun and Haidyn Warner all had at bats in 2023.
Kaylin Kinney is also back this year after her season ending injury in 2023. Kinney will give Nebraska another strong arm in the circle, she had a 0.84 ERA before she missed the rest of her season.
Sarah Harness is another pitcher coming back, who appeared in 31 games last season with 25 starts, posting a 10-5 record with a 3.40 ERA.
Jordy Bahl comes back home after two incredible seasons at Oklahoma. Bahl was a first-team All-American and Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in both 2022 and 2023. She owns an insane 44-2 career record and a 0.99 ERA in the circle with a 3.50 batting average.
Peyton Cody, the sixth year transfer, started 139 games and posted a .319 batting average with 29 doubles, 20 homeruns, and 100 RBIs in her five years at St. John’s.
Bella Bacon, an Omaha native, transfers to Nebraska after spending her freshman year at Purdue. Bacon played in 26 games and had an average of .250 with a .381 on base percentage with the Boilermakers.
Freshman Samantha Bland starred for Chino Hills High School in California and with the Corona Angels. Bland was a two-time league MVP and two-time Los Angeles Times all-star for Chino Hills.
Emmerson Cope, a freshman from Topeka, Kansas, was a two-time Kansas 6A Pitcher of the Year. The nation’s No. 26 overall recruit, Cope posted a 14-3 record with a 1.50 ERA as a senior while batting .577 with 15 homeruns and 43 RBIs.
Elisa Gulfin was a standout pitcher for Saint Paul High School in California. She was the Del Ray League Pitcher of the Year and a first-team all-league and all-area selection.
Caitlin Olensky is Nebraska’s first left handed pitcher since 2018 and is just the second player from New Jersey to play for Nebraska. Olensky was ranked as the nation’s No. 60 overall recruit after posting a 0.92 ERA and .449 career batting average at Montville High.
Lincoln native Malia Thoms was a four-time all-conference and four-time all-state selection for Waverly High School. She was tabbed as the No. 42 recruit in the country by Extra Inning Softball.
Billie Andrews has started 159 consecutive games at shortstop. Andrews also has six games with multiple home runs in her career, the Nebraska record for most multi-homer games is seven held by Tristen Edwards.
Jordy Bahl carries a 27.1-inning scoreless streak into this season. She did not allow a run over her final six appearances last season, all of which were in either an NCAA Super Regional or Women’s College World Series game. Bahl has not allowed a run in 50 of her 71 career appearances, while allowing one run or less in 60 of her 71 career appearances.
Caitlynn Neal enters the season with 93 career hits, seven shy of 100.
Rhonda Revelle is three wins shy of recording 1,100 win as a Husker.
Nebraska’s Notable Games
Nebraska will play a very strong schedule, the brunt of that coming very early on. The Huskers will face eight currently ranked teams #7 Washington, #10 UCLA, #11 Duke, #13 Utah, #15 Oregon, #16 Arkansas, #20 Northwestern, and #24 San Diego State.
The Big Ten is no cake walk either, but these early games will give Nebraska Softball fans a look into what to expect and where the team matches up.
A reminder that Nebraska opens up their season in Puerto Vallarta against #7 Washington at 6:00 pm (Central). The games can be watched on FloSoftball, if a subscription is purchased, you can also listen to Nate Rohr on the call available at Huskers.com/listen or on the official Huskers app.