Katelyn Caneda Softball vs Omaha- DG001Katelyn Caneda Softball vs Omaha- DG001

No. 18 Nebraska Opens Season in Mexico

The No. 18 Nebraska softball team opens its season this week when the Cornhuskers travel to Mexico for the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge. Nebraska will play four games over three days, beginning the year with a pair of contests against ranked opponents.

The Huskers take on No. 7 Washington Thursday at 6:30 p.m. (Central). On Friday, Nebraska faces 11th-ranked Duke at 12:30 p.m. (Central) and Long Beach State at 3 p.m. (Central). NU wraps up the tournament on Saturday against Utah Valley at 10:30 a.m. (Central).

All four games this week - and every game this season - will have a free radio broadcast with Nate Rohr on the call. The radio broadcast is available at Huskers.com/listen and on the official Huskers app. Fans can also watch all of the action at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge by purchasing a subscription to FloSoftball. A monthly subscription is $29.99, while an annual subscription is $150.

Nebraska returns all but three players from last season, when the Huskers finished with a 36-22 record. NU made its second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2023, advancing to the regional final to post a top-20 national finish while receiving votes in the final top-25 poll. 

Nebraska has added eight newcomers to its roster, including three Division I transfers and five freshmen. Rhonda Revelle is back for her 32nd season, which ties her with former golf coach Robin Krapfl as the longest serving female head coach in the history of Husker athletics.

Leading Off

  • Thursday’s season opener will mark the fifth game Nebraska has played on foreign soil. The Huskers played four games in Puerto Vallarta in 2017.
  • NU is No. 18 in the NFCA coaches poll. The Huskers have earned a preseason ranking for the first time since 2015 (18th).
  • Nebraska is facing a ranked opponent in the season opener for the first time since 2018, when NU defeated No. 19 BYU, 5-4.
  • Three of NU’s four opponents this week (Washington, Duke and Long Beach State) made the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
  • NU’s roster features 24 players, making it the largest roster in school history.
  • NU enters a season with two All-Americans on its roster for the first time since 2013.
  • The roster features eight returning players who have earned all-region accolades in their careers and seven players who have been an all-conference selection.
  • Nebraska’s team captains for the 2024 season are Billie Andrews, Kaylin Kinney, Mckinley Malecha and Abbie Squier.
  • Last season, the Husker offense tied the school record for doubles (96) and ranked third in extra-base hits (164) and slugging percentage (.499).
  • Rhonda Revelle is three wins shy of recording her 1,100th win at Nebraska.

What Nebraska Returns on Offense in 2024
Nebraska returns the majority of its offensive production from 2023 even with starter Abbie Squier out for the year. The Huskers must replace only three hitters from last season - including Squier - while returning 14 hitters, including six who had at least 150 plate appearances.

  • From a production standpoint, Nebraska’s available returning players accounted for more than 70 percent of the 2023 team totals in at bats, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, runs, RBIs and walks. Nebraska returns its 2023 statistical leader in every offensive category.
  • Third-team All-American Billie Andrews is back after leading NU with 16 homers, 29 extra-base hits, 50 runs, 28 walks, a .677 slugging percentage and a .441 on-base percentage last season. She ranked sixth in school history in extra-base hits and seventh in home runs.
  • All-Big Ten and all-region selection Katelyn Caneda returns after she led NU with a .366 batting average in 2023. The .366 average was the third-highest mark by a freshman in school history while Caneda was the first freshman to lead NU in average since 2013.
  • Brooke Andrews led Nebraska with 45 RBIs last season and was second on the team with a .575 slugging percentage while earning all-conference and all-region recognition.
  • Rounding out Nebraska’s four returning .300 hitters is Caitlynn Neal, who batted .307 last season and led the Huskers with 14 doubles.
  • Sydney Gray is a career .305 hitter, and she was an all-region selection in 2022 after batting .313 that season with eight doubles, 11 home runs and 45 RBIs.
  • Ava Bredwell, the 2022 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, hit .285 last season and was second on the team with 36 runs scored.
  • Sophomores Talia Tokheim, Alina Felix and Ashley Smetter are back after being productive in limited action as freshmen last season. Tokheim hit .359 with 10 extra-base hits in only 39 at bats before suffering a season-ending injury. Felix started 10 games and hit .259 while scoring seven runs. Smetter was 3-for-8 (.375) in limited at bats with one double.
  • Nebraska has four other hitters - Dakota Carter, Mckinley Malecha, Abbey Newlun and Haidyn Warner - who all had at bats in 2023. 

What Nebraska Returns in the Circle in 2024
Nebraska returns two its four pitchers from last season. That includes the return of Kaylin Kinney, who had a 0.84 ERA while appearing in seven of the first 15 games last year before missing the rest of the year with an injury. NU must replace Courtney Wallace, who appeared in 48 of Nebraska’s 58 games in 2023 and picked up the win or save in 28 of the Huskers’ 36 wins.

  • Sarah Harness appeared in 31 games last season with 25 starts, posting a 10-5 record with a 3.40 ERA. A former all-conference and all-region selection at Southern Illinois, Harness led Nebraska in ERA, strikeouts per seven innings (6.3) and opponent average (.230) in 2023.

A Look at Nebraska's Eight Newcomers
Nebraska returns 16 players from last year’s roster, but the Huskers also welcome eight newcomers in 2024. The eight newcomers include three Division I transfers and five freshmen.

  • Jordy Bahl returns home to Nebraska after two outstanding seasons at Oklahoma. Bahl was a first-team All-American and the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in both 2022 and 2023. She boasts a 44-2 career record and a 0.99 ERA in the circle with a .350 career batting average.
  • Peyton Cody transferred to Nebraska for her sixth season after spending the last five years at St. John’s. Cody started 139 games at St. John’s and posted a .316 average with 29 doubles, 20 home runs and 100 RBIs. She was the Big East co-Freshman of the Year in 2019, when she was also a first-team all-conference and third-team all-region selection.
  • Omaha native Bella Bacon joins the Huskers after spending her freshman season at Purdue in 2023. Bacon played in 26 games with the Boilermakers last season, batting .250 with a .381 on-base percentage.
  • Freshman Samantha Bland starred for Chino Hills High School in California and with the Corona Angels. Bland was a two-time league MVP and two-time Los Angeles Times all-star for Chino Hills.
  • Emmerson Cope, a freshman from Topeka, Kan., was the two-time Kansas 6A Pitcher of the Year for Washburn Rural High School. The nation’s No. 26 overall recruit, Cope posted a 14-3 record with a 1.50 ERA as a senior while batting .577 with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs.
  • Elisa Gulfin, who was a travel ball teammate of Samantha Bland on the Corona Angels, was a standout pitcher for Saint Paul High School in California. She was the Del Ray League Pitcher of the Year and a first-team all-league and all-area selection.
  • Nebraska’s first left-handed pitcher since 2018, Caitlin Olensky is just the second New Jersey native to play for the Huskers. Olensky was ranked as the nation’s No. 60 overall recruit after posting a 0.92 career ERA and .449 career batting average at Montville High.
  • Lincoln native Malia Thoms was a four-time all-conference and four-time all-state selection for Waverly High School. She was tabbed as the No. 42 recruit in the country by Extra Inning Softball.

Quick Hitters

  • Nebraska is seeking its first international win this week. The only other games the Huskers have played on foreign soil came at the 2017 Puerto Vallarta Collegiate Challenge, when Nebraska went 0-4 at the tournament.
  • The Huskers are opening the season with back-to-back games against ranked opponents for just the fifth time in school history. Nebraska also played its first two games of the season against ranked opponents in 2004, 2006, 2012 and 2018, posting a 1-1 start each year.
  • NU played its final two games last season against ranked opponents meaning the Huskers will play four consecutive games against ranked opponents for the first time since 2018.
  • Nebraska returns the majority of its offense that tied the school record for doubles last season (94), while ranking third in extra-base hits (164) and slugging percentage (.499) and fourth in batting average (.308) and home runs (63).
  • Billie Andrews has started 159 consecutive games at shortstop.
  • Andrews has six games with multiple home runs in her career. The Nebraska record for most career multi-homer games is seven by Tristen Edwards.
  • Jordy Bahl carries a 27.1-inning scoreless streak into this season. She did not allow a run over her final six appearances last season, all of which were in either an NCAA Super Regional or Women’s College World Series game.
  • Bahl has not allowed a run in 50 of her 71 career appearances, while allowing one run or less in 60 of her 71 career appearances.
  • Caitlynn Neal enters this season with 93 career hits, seven shy of 100.

Huskers Ranked Among Nation's Top Players
In its preseason list of the top 100 players in the country, D1Softball ranked two Huskers among the nation’s top 50 players. Jordy Bahl was tabbed as the No. 2 player in the country, while shortstop Billie Andrews was ranked as the No. 42 player nationally. Both were also ranked among the nation’s top 10 players at their position, as was sophomore Katelyn Caneda.

  • Nebraska and Indiana were the only Big Ten teams with multiple players on the D1Softball Top 100. Bahl and Andrews were the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked Big Ten players on the list.
  • Bahl was the only Big Ten player named to the 50-player preseason watch list for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. She has been one of 10 finalists for the award in each of her first two collegiate seasons.
  • Bahl is also one of only three active pitchers who is a multi-time All-American along with Clemson’s Valerie Cagle and Oklahoma’s Kelly Maxwell.
  • Andrews was the highest-ranked Big Ten position player on the D1Softball Top 100. She came in at No. 5 on D1Softball’s list of the top shortstops.
  • Andrews is one of only five returning 2023 All-America shortstops, along with Florida’s Skylar Wallace, UCLA’s Mya Brady, Kentucky’s Erin Coffel and Boston’s Kayla Roncin.
  • Caneda, the only Big Ten player named to the all-conference, all-freshman and all-tournament teams in 2023, was ranked as the nation’s No. 9 second baseman. Nebraska had the highest-ranked pitcher, second baseman and shortstop in the Big Ten Conference.

Scouting #7 Washington (0-0)
Washington earned a No. 7 preseason ranking in the NFCA coaches poll. Last season, the Huskies went 44-15 and advanced to the Women’s College World Series. 

Washington hit .298 as a team last season and averaged 5.4 runs per game, but the Huskies lost all four of their .300 hitters from last year. In the circle, Washington posted a 2.50 ERA in 2023, and the Huskies bring back three of their four pitchers from a season ago. UW also had the No. 5 fielding percentage (.981) in the country in 2023.

  • Rylee Holt and Kinsey Fiedler are the only returning players who had more than 90 at bats for the Huskies last season, and each player hit .277. Holtorf adding nine doubles, five homers and 18 RBIs while Fiedler had five doubles, five homers and 18 RBIs.
  • In the circle, Omaha native Ruby Meylan was a third-team All-American as a freshman in 2023, and she is one of 50 players on the preseason watch list for the 2024 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. Meylan went 18-7 with seven saves last season, compiling a 2.14 ERA and eight shutouts while throwing nearly half of Washington’s total innings.
  • Lindsay Lopez and Brooke Nelson also return to the pitching staff. Lopez was 14-3 with a 3.25 ERA in 94.2 innings while Nelson went 3-2 with a 2.46 ERA over 31.1 innings.
  • Heather Tarr is in her 20th season at her alma mater. Tarr boasts a 788-298-1 record at Washington and is the Huskies’ all-time wins leader in any sport. Tarr has taken Washington to the Women’s College World Series eight times, including a national title in 2009.

Scouting #11 Duke (0-0)
Duke went 48-12 last season, finished second in the ACC and hosted an NCAA Super Regional. The Blue Devils are ranked 11th in the preseason NFCA coaches poll.

Duke ranked 15th nationally with a .318 batting average in 2023, and the Blue Devils were 23rd nationally in scoring (5.9 runs per game). Duke must replace only one bat in its starting lineup from last season and returns five .300 hitters. The Blue Devils also return all five pitchers from a staff that posted a 2.11 ERA in 2023.

  • D’Auna Jennings ranked 6th nationally with a .462 batting average as a freshman in 2023. Jennings was a second-team All-American last season and is on the preseason watch list for the 2024 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award.
  • Aminah Vega returns after she hit .371 last season with 11 doubles, 12 home runs and 50 RBIs. Gisele Tapia also drove in 50 runs last year while batting .362. Claire Davidson hit .325 in 2023, while Ana Gold batted .313 and led the Blue Devils with 19 home runs and 56 RBIs.
  • In the circle, Cassidy Curd is back after she was a first-team All-ACC selection and a top-10 finalist for national freshman of the year in 2023. The left-hander, who joins Jennings on the preseason watch list for national player of the year, went 18-3 last season with a 1.65 ERA. She struck out 159 batters in 127.1 innings and opponents hit just .146 against her.
  • Jala Wright returns after she led Duke with 37 appearances, 22 starts and 133.2 innings pitched last season. Wright was 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 2023. Lillie Walker (8-2, 1.20 ERA in 58.1 IP), Sophie Garner-MacKinnon (5-1, 2.05 ERA in 44.2 IP) and Claire Davidson (5-2, 3.61 ERA in 40.2 IP) also return for the Blue Devils.
  • Michigan alum Marissa Young is in her seventh season at Duke, which began playing softball in 2018. Young owns a 213-97 record at Duke. She has guided the Blue Devils to one ACC title, and Duke has earned a national seed in three straight NCAA Tournaments.

Scouting Long Beach State (0-0)
Long Beach State was the Big West champion last season, finishing with a 31-23 record and a trip to an NCAA Regional. Friday’s game against Nebraska will mark the season opener for the Beach.

Long Beach State hit .256 as a team last season and averaged 3.3 runs per game. The top four batting average leaders all return. In the circle, LBSU posted a 2.57 ERA in 2023 and Long Beach State returns its top three pitchers from last season in terms of appearances and innings pitched.

  • Sara Olson is one of two returning .300 hitters for Long Beach State. She led the team with a .329 average and four home runs in 2023. Jacquelyn Bickar is also back after finishing second on the team with a .307 average last season, and she led the Beach with eight doubles and 18 RBIs.
  • In the circle, Shannon Haddad returns after earning first-team all-conference accolades last year. Haddad was 13-10 with a 2.10 ERA in 2023, leading the team in wins, strikeouts (109) and innings pitched (146.1). Haddad ranked 21st nationally with seven shutouts in 2023.
  • Eryka Gonzales and Sophia Fernandez are back after seeing the most action behind Haddad last season. Gonzalez was 6-3 with a 1.95 ERA over 19 appearances and 68.1 innings in 2023, while Fernandez went 8-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 20 appearances in 74.1 innings.
  • Kim Sowder is in her 18th season at Long Beach State, where she owns a 527-353-1 record. Sowder has been named the Big West Coach of the Year four times, and she has led the Beach to nine NCAA Regional appearances.

Scouting Utah Valley (0-0)
Utah Valley went 17-32 last season and tied for eighth place in the WAC standings. Utah Valley hit .266 as a team in 2023 and averaged 3.9 runs per game. The Wolverines return four of their top five hitters from a season ago but must replace their batting average leader. 

Utah Valley allowed 5.2 runs per game in 2023 and posted a 4.93 ERA. The Wolverines must replace their top two pitchers who combined to throw 80 percent of the total innings.

  • Megan Gibbs is the lone returning .300 hitter for Utah Valley, after she ranked second on the team with a .306 average in 2023. Gibbs was the top power threat for the Wolverines, pacing the team with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs.
  • Britney Moreno (.298), Angelique Mann (.285) and Libbie Hawker (.276) are all back after batting better than .275 last season.
  • In the circle, Jorja Barrett is Utah Valley’s most experienced returning pitcher after she posted a 3-3 record with a 5.47 ERA over 20 appearances, five starts and 48.2 innings pitched last season. Payge Armendariz (0-1, 10.92 ERA in 8.1 IP) is the only other returning pitcher for the Wolverines.
  • Cody Thomson is in his third season at Utah Valley in 2024. He has guided the Wolverines to a 41-59 record the past two seasons.