Talia TokheimTalia Tokheim

Homers Power Huskers Past Badgers

The Nebraska softball team hit a season-high four home runs to win an 11-7 slugfest Friday in the opening game of a three-game series at Wisconsin.

The four homers came from Nebraska's Nos. 4, 5 and 6 hitters Samantha Bland, Sydney Gray and Talia Tokheim. Bland and Gray each hit one home run while Tokheim homered twice. Combined, the trio went 6-for-13 with the four home runs, eight runs scored and six RBIs.

Billie Andrews and Brooke Andrews each had two RBIs hitting out of the top two spots in the lineup, while Bella Bacon went 2-for-3 and was hit by a pitch.

Kaylin Kinney (13-8) earned the win with a strong relief outing. After Wisconsin scored seven runs in the first three innings, Kinney tossed four innings of shutout relief, allowing just one hit. Sarah Harness started for the Huskers and gave up seven runs in 3.0 innings.

With the win, Nebraska improved to 19-13 on the season and moved to 3-0 in Big Ten play. Shelby Jacobson (2-9) took the loss for Wisconsin, which fell to 12-18 on the year and dropped to 1-3 in conference action.

Nebraska took a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning on Tokheim's first home run. Bland drew a leadoff walk before Gray singled. Tokheim then hit an 0-2 pitch over the fence in left for a three-run home run. 

Wisconsin came right back with four runs in the bottom of the second. Emmy Wells led off the inning with a home run before a single, a stolen base and an RBI single cut the Husker lead to 3-2. An infield single and an error put Badgers on second and third with one out. Harness responded with a strikeout before a two-out, two-run double gave the Badgers a 4-3 lead.

Nebraska regained the lead in the top of the fourth. Gray led off with a single, Bacon was hit by a one-out pitch and Katelyn Caneda drew a two-out walk to load the bases. Billie Andrews then delivered a two-run single up the middle to give Nebraska a one-run lead. Billie Andrews promptly stole second base before Brooke Andrews hit a two-run single to make it a 7-4 Husker lead.

Wisconsin again answered in the bottom of the frame. Three consecutive hits to start the bottom of the fourth plated one run and cut the lead to two. A fourth straight hit drove in two runs to tie the game and marked the end of the day for Harness.

Bland immediately put the Big Red back in front when she led off the top of the fifth with a home run to left. Following an out, Tokheim walked and Bacon singled to put runners on first and second. An error then allowed a run to score as Nebraska's lead grew to 9-7.

The Huskers added two insurance runs on back-to-back home runs from Gray and Tokheim in the top of the seventh. Kinney then retired Wisconsin in order in the bottom of the seventh.

Nebraska and Wisconsin continue their three-game series with game two on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Post-Game Notes

  • After scoring 16 runs in its last game against Illinois, Nebraska has scored double-digit runs in consecutive Big Ten games for the first time since scoring 11 runs in consecutive games against Minnesota in April of 2022.
  • The Huskers hit a season-high four home runs in the game.
  • Talia Tokheim, who recently returned from a year-long injury absence, went 2-for-3 with two homers, a walk, three runs and four RBIs. Tokheim set a career high in runs and tied her career high in home runs and RBIs.
  • Sydney Gray went 3-for-4 with a home run, her ninth of the season. The three hits tied Gray's career high.
  • Gray and Tokheim hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning, the first time this season the Huskers have hit back-to-back homers.
  • Samantha Bland also homered for the Big Red, her fourth of the year.
  • Bland, Gray and Tokheim - Nebraska's No. 4, 5 and 6 hitters - combined to go 6-for-13 with four home runs, six RBIs and eight runs scored.
  • Kaylin Kinney tossed 4.0 innings of shutout relief to earn her 13th win of the season. Kinney, who ranks in the top 15 nationally in victories, has recorded either the win or the save in 14 of Nebraska's 19 wins this season.