Heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, Nebraska’s matchup with Oklahoma State was in line with the rest of the Huskers’ postseason play.
The Big Ten champions had held the Cowgirls to a single run through their first three frames, and just scored two of their own to take the lead. Just like in the conference tournament and the first game of the Stillwater Regional, Nebraska was winning with strong pitching and a couple big hits.
However, host team Oklahoma State quickly broke that trend by plating four runs in the fourth inning and one more in both the fifth and sixth. The Husker offense couldn’t keep up, losing 7-4.
Nebraska had its chances to score before the fourth inning. For the second straight game, sophomore Billie Andrews earned a leadoff walk. She went on to steal second base as well, but Cowgirl starting pitcher Morgan Day retired the next three batters.
In the second inning, the Huskers got two runners on base via a single and a walk, but the inning ended on Courtney Wallace flying out into a double play. Abbie Squier, who singled to start that inning, seemed to have expected Wallace’s ball not to be caught and couldn’t get back to second base in time.
Two innings later, Squier and Wallace redeemed themselves. With two outs in the top of the fourth, Day was looking dominant and Oklahoma State held a 1-0 lead. Squier then fought back from an 0-2 count to earn a walk, and senior Peyton Glatter and sophomore Kaylin Kinney loaded the bases with a single and hit by pitch, respectively.
Wallace then helped the team finally capitalize, hitting a two-RBI single up the middle.
Up until that point, Wallace had found some success on the mound as well. She walked two Cowgirls in the first inning, but evened it out with two strikeouts to keep Oklahoma State from scoring.
In the second inning, Oklahoma State got on the board first with a leadoff single followed by a double. Wallace limited further damage from there, retiring the next three batters.
By the bottom of the fourth, Wallace had allowed two walks and three hits, but only one run. However, the Cowgirls also made their breakthrough in that inning, though not only by fault of Wallace.
With two runners on and one out, Oklahoma State’s Kiley Naomi hit a ground ball to Andrews for what could have been an easy out. However, she missed the throw to third base, allowing the tying run to come home.
Then, Wallace let up a two-RBI single to put the Huskers down 4-2 and was pulled for Kinney. Before the inning ended, the Cowgirls added one more run on a double.
The Huskers failed to rebound on either side. Day didn’t allow a single Nebraska baserunner in the fifth or sixth innings, while Oklahoma State recorded five hits and added another two runs in that span.
Wallace still ended the day strong, hitting a double in the top of the seventh inning. Andrews brought her home with a two-run homer, but it wasn’t enough as senior Cam Ybarra ended the game with a groundout.
Day completed the game, having allowed five hits, three walks and four earned runs.
Oklahoma State’s seven runs were more than double the three runs the Huskers had allowed in their four previous games, dating back to the start of the conference tournament. The Cowgirls also had five successful steals.
Since the NCAA Regionals are in a double-elimination format, Nebraska will play again tonight at 6 p.m. CT in a win-or-go-home game against either North Texas or Fordham. The Huskers took down the Mean Green 3-0 yesterday, while the Rams were run-ruled 12-0 against Oklahoma State.
If the Huskers can avoid elimination tonight, it will still be a tough road to the Super Regional round. They’d have to pull off two straight wins against Oklahoma State tomorrow.
Of course, the focus for now will be on tonight’s opponent. Olivia Ferrell, who earned the win in Nebraska’s shutout of North Texas, is likely to get the start, as the team’s other two pitchers who have seen significant time this year both took the mound in this afternoon’s matchup.