The May 2021 issue of Hail Varsity is on its way to mailboxes and newsstands now. To preview the issue, here is the Letter from Editor Mike Babcock. Make sure you don’t miss an issue by subscribing today. That will ensure you get our biggest issue of the year, the 2021 Nebraska Football Yearbook, which ships in June.
Tristen Edwards hit a home run in her final at-bat at Nebraska. The home run was her seventh of the season, tying Billie Andrews for the team-high.
That season-ending home run—the Huskers finished with a 22-22 record—also reflects the basis of Erin Sorensen’s cover story in this issue: “PITCH TO TRISTEN EDWARDS AT YOUR OWN RISK.”
Consider Edwards’ season numbers. The home run came in her 86th official at-bat, in 40 games. She had two sacrifice flies; she was walked 39 times and hit by a pitch 17 times—that’s right, 17. Edwards was leading the nation in free passes, 1.44 per game. With only 86 official at-bats, she also led the Huskers in batting average (.324), on-base percentage (.583) and slugging percentage (.651).
But there’s more to Edwards’ story, much more. And Erin recounts it, using the words of those closest to the now-former Husker, and illustrated with photos by John Peterson. It’s a unique ride-along with a softball-committed family, told only as Erin can.
Jacob Padilla provides insight into the NCAA transfer portal, and how Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg has been ahead of the curve in utilizing transfers—as the Husker roster reflects.
Derek Peterson looks at some elements of spring football in one notebook, while in another, Greg Smith offers a brief review of recruiting, which was set to return to some sense of normalcy in June.
This issue’s photo spreads include images of Husker baseball, which was in first place in the Big Ten going into a four-game pod at Bloomington, Indiana, where Nebraska would play two games against the Hoosiers. Indiana and Michigan—which is scheduled to come to Lincoln for a three-game series to finish the regular season—have been the primary contenders with the Huskers in the conference race.
Depending on how things go down the stretch, however, the competitiveness is such that Maryland and Iowa could be in the title mix as well. Winning the Big Ten would mean an automatic bid into an NCAA regional. With a conference-only schedule, the Big Ten’s national respect has taken a hit. When this issue went to press, Nebraska was the highest-ranked conference team based on RPI, at 69.
Iowa was second at 76, Indiana third at 82.
The baseball images are from Nebraska’s series with Northwestern at Haymarket Park. The teams played only two of the three scheduled games—the Huskers won both—because Northwestern had used all six pitchers it brought to Lincoln. It was a “health and safety” decision, according to the official release. Northwestern’s previous seven games had been cancelled because of COVID protocol.
The effects of the pandemic were dissipating but not gone. Still, Husker fans were able to return to events such as baseball, softball and the spring game in larger numbers to watch student-athletes compete. And Hail Varsity has always been there, telling stories like Edwards’ in this issue.
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.