Gray Powers Huskers Past Hornets

Sydney Gray hit a pair of three-run homers to power the Nebraska softball team to an 8-3 come-from-behind victory over Sacramento State Sunday in Las Cruces, N.M.

Nebraska trailed by three early and had been shut out until a four-run fifth inning, which was capped by Gray's go-ahead three-run homer. The Huskers had another four-run inning in the seventh, which was again capped by a three-run homer for Gray.

Gray finished 2-for-4 with a career-high six RBIs against the Hornets. Her two home runs marked the third multi-homer game of her career. Peyton Cody went 4-for-4 to set a career high in hits, while Bella Bacon, Ava Bredwell and Brooke Andrews had two hits apiece, with Bredwell driving in a pair of runs. Nebraska pounded out 15 hits in the win.

Caitlin Olensky (1-0) earned her first career win for Nebraska, pitching 2.1 innings of one-hit, shutout relief. Kaylin Kinney picked up her first save of the season by pitching 3.0 scoreless innings of hitless relief. Emmerson Cope made her first career start and allowed three unearned runs in 1.2 innings. Combined, Nebraska's staff did not allow an earned run in the game.

The win was Nebraska's fourth straight victory, with the Huskers coming from behind in all four wins. NU finished with a 4-1 weekend in New Mexico to improve to 6-3 on the season. Sacramento State, the defending Big Sky Conference regular-season champions, fell to 6-3 with its second loss to Nebraska in as many days. Savannah Wahl (2-1) suffered her first loss of the season, allowing four runs in 5.0 innings.

Nebraska threatened to take an early lead in the top of the second inning. Cody led off with a single and pinch runner Katelyn Caneda moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a ground out. Caneda then tried to score when a pitch got away from the catcher, but the ball bounced hard off the backstop and right back to the catcher, who threw to the pitcher in time to get Caneda at the plate.

Sacramento State then took advantage of a Husker error in the bottom of the second. The Hornets had a runner at first with two outs before an error extended the inning. Malissa George made the Huskers pay for the miscue, as she followed with a three-run homer to give the Hornets a 3-0 advantage.

After falling behind, Nebraska left the bases loaded in both the third and fourth innings. In the third, Brooke Andrews singled and Alina Felix walked to start the frame. After a strikeout, Billie Andrews reached on an infield single to load the bases with one out. But the next two batters were retired to end the threat.

In the top of the fourth, Cody singled and Bredwell reached on an error to start the inning. The next two Huskers were retired before Felix singled to load the bases. But once again NU was held off the scoreboard as a ground out ended the inning.

The Huskers finally broke through with a two-out rally in the fifth inning. The first two Huskers were retired before Bella Bacon got the rally started with a double. Cody followed with a single and with runners on the corners, Ava Bredwell put Nebraska on the board with an RBI single. Gray then gave Nebraska a 4-3 lead with a towering three-run homer to left field.

Nebraska added four insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Bacon began the inning with an infield single and Cody followed with another single, her fourth hit of the game. Bacon and pinch runner Mckinley Malecha each moved up a base on a passed ball before Bredwell hit an RBI single to score Bacon and stretch the Husker lead to 5-3. Gray then blasted her second three-run homer of the game.

Leading 8-3 with still no outs in the inning, Nebraska loaded the bases on a Brooke Andrews single, a Felix walk and a Caitlynn Neal infield single. But the next three Huskers were retired, as Nebraska left the bases loaded for the third time in the game.

Kinney then retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh to close out the game and record the save.

Nebraska returns to action next weekend, when the Huskers take on a challenging schedule at the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, Calif.

Post-Game Notes

  • Nebraska won its fourth straight game, with the Huskers coming from behind in all four wins.
  • Sydney Gray tied her career high with two home runs and set a career high with six RBIs. Gray drove in 10 runs in five games on the weekend.
  • Peyton Cody went 4-for-4 to set a career high in hits. Cody went 6-for-10 on the weekend with a double, a homer and three RBIs.
  • Bella Bacon went 2-for-5 to produce her fourth consecutive multi-hit game. She finished 8-for-18 on the weekend with two doubles and three RBIs.
  • Alina Felix went 1-for-2 with a career-high two walks. Felix went 7-for-11 on the weekend with a double and three RBIs.
  • Emmerson Cope made her first career start in the circle for Nebraska.
  • Caitlin Olensky earned her first career win for Nebraska.
  • Cope and Olensky, a pair of freshmen, combined to allow only one earned run in 12.1 innings in New Mexico.
  • Kaylin Kinney earned the save, her first of the season and fourth of her career.
  • Overall, Nebraska's pitching staff posted a 1.75 ERA over five games on the weekend.