HUSKER SOFTBALL:  Nebraska Gets Win Over Utah Valley

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico—(NU Athletics Feb. 10)—The 18th-ranked Nebraska softball team wrapped up its season-opening tournament with a 3-2 win against Utah Valley Saturday morning in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

The Huskers won their final two games of the tournament to finish with a 2-2 record, with both losses coming to top-15 opponents. Utah Valley went 0-4 against a schedule that included four games against Power Conference opponents, including three ranked foes.

Kaylin Kinney (2-1) earned the win in relief for the second straight game. After throwing 4.0 scoreless innings against Long Beach State on Friday, Kinney had 3.1 innings of scoreless relief against Utah Valley. Kinney struck out two and did not allow a hit against the Wolverines. Sarah Harness started in the circle for Nebraska and allowed two runs on two hits in 3.2 innings.

Offensively, five Huskers produced a hit. Billie Andrews had a solo home run, while Bella Bacon had an RBI double and Samantha Bland added an RBI single.

Halle Morris (0-3) took the loss for Utah Valley, despite a strong effort in relief. Morris pitched the final 5.2 innings, allowing one run on only two hits.

Nebraska threatened to grab a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Emmerson Cope hit a hard ground ball down the first base line with Brooke Andrews on second base. But Utah Valley first baseman Saige Nielsen made a diving stop and beat Cope to the bag to prevent a run.

Utah Valley then stranded runners at first and third base in the bottom of the frame.

In the top of the second, Sydney Gray and Bella Bacon had back-to-back doubles to begin the inning, with Bacon’s double driving in Gray with the game’s first run. After Bacon moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Katelyn Caneda, Samantha Bland scored Bacon with an RBI single to right.

Billie Andrews made it 3-0 Big Red when she led off the third inning with a home run to center field, the 45th home run of her career and her 75th career extra-base hit.

The Wolverines made it a one-run game in the bottom of the fourth when Peyton Hall hit a two-out, two-run homer to cut the Husker lead to 3-2.

It remained a 3-2 game heading into the bottom of the seventh. The leadoff batter was hit by a pitch before a passed ball put the tying run at second base. Kinney then struck out Hall for the Huskers’ first strikeout of the game. A ground out put Nebraska one out away from victory but also moved the tying run to third base for Utah Valley. The game then ended when Bland made a diving catch in shallow left field.

Nebraska returns to action next weekend with five games in three days at the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces, N.M.