Cathedral City, Calif. - A pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning helped the Nebraska softball team upset No. 7 Oregon, 6-5, on Friday in the Huskers' opening game of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
Nebraska led 4-3 entering the seventh inning, only to see the Ducks rally. Former Husker Hailey Decker led off the inning with a pinch-hit home run before a Nebraska error opened the door for a sacrifice fly that gave Oregon a 5-4 edge.
The Huskers bounced back in the bottom of the seventh, scoring twice to tie the game. Nebraska loaded the bases on consecutive singles from sophomore Gina Metzler, senior Kiki Stokes and sophomore pinch hitter Kaylan Jablonski. A ground out then marked the first out of the inning before senior Alicia Armstrong grounded a hard ball up the middle. The ball deflected off the Oregon shortstop and she recovered in time to get the force out at second, but Stokes scored the game-tying run from third.
That brought senior Mattie Fowler to the plate and the 2-1 pitch to her was in the dirt and got by the catcher, allowing Jablonski to score on a wild pitch for a walk-off winner.
The Huskers moved to 9-1 with their first victory over a top-10 opponent since the 2015 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The 9-1 record matches the best 10-game start in school history. Oregon fell to 8-4 on the year, losing to an unranked opponent for the first time.
Junior Cassie McClure earned the win in relief, improving to 5-1 on the season. McClure got Nebraska out of a jam in the fifth inning, with the Huskers holding a 5-4 lead. She then gave up two runs in the seventh, allowing two runs (one earned) in 2.1 innings. Senior Emily Lockman earned the start and pitched well, allowing three runs on five hits in 4.2 innings.
Megan Kleist (4-2) took the loss in relief of two-time All-American Cheridan Hawkins, who was tagged for four runs in 4.0 innings. Kleist allowed two runs on four hits in 2.2 innings.
Home runs were the story early. Oregon grabbed a 1-0 lead two batters into the game when Nikki Udria hit a solo home run.
The Huskers answered back in the bottom of the first when junior MJ Knighten blasted a two-out solo home run.
Geri Ann Glasco then led off the top of the second with the game's third solo home run to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Stokes reached on a one-out infield single and stole second. Knighten was then intentionally walked before Armstrong launched a three-run homer to left to give Nebraska its first lead at 4-2.
Nebraska still led 4-2 before an odd play in the top of the fifth inning. With a runner on first and one out, Alyssa Gillespie hit a fly ball to deep left field. Gina Metzler went back and had the ball in her glove, then tumbled through the temporary fence and as she hit the ground beyond the fence, the ball popped out of her glove. The play was originally ruled a game-tying two-run home run. After an umpire conference the call stood, however Gillespie was ruled to have passed the runner on the basepaths, making her out and allowing only one run to score.
Following the unusual play, Lockman walked the next two batters to bring McClure into the game. McClure escaped the jam with a ground out and pitched a scoreless sixth inning before the Ducks scored twice in the top of the seventh.
Armstrong drove in the game-tying run to cap a 1-for-3 day that included a home run and four RBIs. Knighten added her seventh home run of the year, while Knighten and Stokes had two hits and two runs.