Husker seniors have hand in Senior Day win and in season’s no-quit mentality
Nebraska’s four senior softball players knew of the emotions that awaited them after Saturday’s game.
They wanted to make it count on the scoreboard, too.
So when the Huskers posted a nine-run fourth inning, the three senior position players — Alyvia Simmons, Madi Unzicker and Bri Cassidy — came together before the fifth and acknowledged that they each had RBI hits in the scoring outburst.
Then they turned to senior pitcher Regan Mergele.
“Bring it home,” Cassidy recalled saying.
Mergele did, pitching a scoreless fifth to cap a 14-0 rout of Maryland on a blustery day at Bowlin Stadium. It marked the second straight mercy-rule win for the Huskers, who have outscored the Terrapins 25-2 through two games.
Game 3 is set for 11 a.m. Sunday.
Nebraska (19-28, 7-12 Big Ten) honored its four seniors and their families after Saturday’s game, and each senior had a role in the win.
Simmons had two hits and two RBIs, Unzicker had a two-run triple, Cassidy drove in a run and Mergele closed the door in relief.
“You can’t script that better, right?” Nebraska coach Rhonda Revelle asked.
For Cassidy, the script included having her family in Lincoln to watch the Maryland series. The last time the Cassidy family was here was when it helped moved Bri into the dorms before her freshman year. This was the first time they’d watch the California native play at Bowlin Stadium.
“That was emotional in itself,” said Cassidy, who has been a mainstay behind the plate for three seasons. “It was so surreal. Getting on base or being behind the plate and just looking over and seeing them, it was really cool and it really meant a lot to me.”
Eight Huskers produced at least one hit against the Terps (20-27, 4-15), including junior Tristen Edwards, who had three hits and raised her batting average to .364. Sophomore Rylie Unzicker had two hits and freshman Courtney Wallace added two hits and three RBIs (she has six for the series).
Wallace also was efficient in the circle. The Papillion-La Vista grad allowed only one hit in four scoreless innings while striking out four.
“I thought Courtney Wallace came out and established herself really well on the mound,” Revelle said. “I feel like our pitchers are really growing right now, in a good way.”
Nebraska is playing some of its better softball of the season, winning four of its past five games while trying to build some momentum for the final two weeks of the regular season.
Nebraska endured a couple of rough stretches, including a 12-game losing streak. It could have folded, but Madi Unzicker said that wasn’t going to happen with this group.
“I think it’s the coaching staff pushing us, all of us, 20 girls, making sure that we’re on at it in practice,” said Unzicker, who was robbed of a home run in the third inning. “It starts in practice. We just weren’t performing in the games, so we had to change something in practice. It attests to our personalities as a team and as individuals, and we just never gave up.”
Said Cassidy, “I think that we just have a clear understanding of what this team is capable of, and we knew that we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we just folded.”
Cassidy said she saw a tweet Saturday morning. It was addressed to the teams fighting for spots in the Big Ten Tournament, telling them to sprint to the finish.
“I think that’s what we’re doing right now and it’s been a lot of fun,” Cassidy said.
Nebraska can clinch a spot in the Big Ten Tournament with a win Sunday.