Nebraska and North Texas had reasons to be anxious at the start of their regional matchup on Friday.
The Mean Green were appearing in their first NCAA Regional ever, while Nebraska hadn’t made it this far since 2016.
However, the Huskers settled in first and rode that momentum to a 3-0 shutout win.
“I think we were all a little anxious going into it, first regional game for Nebraska in a really long time,” sophomore Kaylin Kinney said postgame. “But we were really excited and just knew that we just had to play our game to get the dub and that’s what we did.”
Olivia Ferrell was a large part of that effort. The fifth-year senior and second-team all-conference pitcher struck out six batters in 5.1 innings pitched and allowed just two hits with no runs.
“Olivia Ferrell just does what she does,” Kinney said. “She just competes on and off the field. I mean, if you talk to anyone, she’s just a competitor. She spins it, she moves it, she does what she does.”
Nebraska’s scoring also got started early as it took advantage of North Texas’s inexperience. Sophomore Billie Andrews drew a leadoff walk from Mean Green pitcher and Purdue transfer Ashley Peters, who had only walked 32 batters in 159 innings pitched coming into the day.
That was followed up by a hit by senior Cam Ybarra, then Andrews scored on a North Texas throwing error. Junior Mya Felder hit an RBI groundout to score Ybarra, while the Mean Green first baseman lost the ball after recording the out and preparing to throw home. The Huskers ended the inning up 2-0.
Both teams then went hitless in the second inning and couldn’t capitalize on runners in scoring position in the third.
Ferrell allowed a leadoff triple in the top of the fourth inning, but got out of trouble by retiring the next three batters.
In the bottom frame, Nebraska added to its lead. Senior Peyton Glatter hit a leadoff double, which Kinney followed up with a single to send pinch runner Brooke Andrews home. The Huskers couldn’t add any more than that in the inning, but Kinney’s RBI still provided breathing room.
“Any runs we can get for our pitchers, so they have more cushion, it works out,” she said. “So I was glad I could do that and help the team.”
Two innings later, Ferrell allowed a leadoff walk and forced a lineout, prompting a switch on the mound. Senior Courtney Wallace took over and allowed a single to the first batter she faced, but that was quickly followed up with a double play.
After the bottom of the sixth ended with a double play as well, North Texas had one more shot to make up a three-run deficit. Wallace didn’t allow those hopes to grow much at all, though, forcing three straight outs to end the game.
Nebraska’s pitchers have been performing at a high level since the end of the regular season, allowing just one run in each Big Ten Tournament game along with this shutout.
The Huskers will play No. 7 seed Oklahoma State at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Cowgirls defeated the Rams, 12-0, to advance.