LINCOLN–(NU Athletics Apr. 11)– Cam Ybarra hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning to lift the Nebraska softball team to an 8-6 series-clinching victory over Illinois on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Bowlin Stadium.
Thanks to four Illini errors, Nebraska scored four times in the third inning. NU led 4-0 heading into the fifth inning, but Illinois exploded for six runs in the fifth to take a 6-4 lead. That set the stage for Ybarra’s game-winning homer, which came after she had fouled off a pair of 3-2 pitches.
The big blast lifted Nebraska to its third straight win, as the Huskers (14-10) won the series, 3-1, after losing the opener Friday night. Ybarra finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Junior Courtney Wallace was 2-for-4 with an RBI and senior Tristen Edwards scored twice after walking in three of her four trips to the plate.
In the circle, senior right-hander Olivia Ferrell picked up the win in relief. Ferrell (8-6) allowed one unearned run over the final 2.2 innings. Wallace started and was perfect through four innings before running into trouble in the fifth. She was charged with five runs (two earned) in 4.1 innings.
Addy Jarvis (4-3) took the loss in relief for Illinois (15-9). Jarvis allowed five runs (four earned) on just one hit – Ybarra’s home run – in 3.2 innings.
Nebraska had the game’s first scoring chance in the bottom of the second. Wallace led off with a single and junior Peyton Glatter followed with a sacrifice bunt, and she wound up safe at first on an error. The next two batters were retired before sophomore Brooke Andrews walked to load the bases. But a towering pop out to short ended the inning.
The Huskers then broke through in the bottom of the third with help from four Illini errors. Edwards got the rally started with a one-out walk. Ybarra followed with a single before Wallace delivered an RBI single up the middle to give Nebraska a 1-0 lead. Following a pitching change, Glatter reached on an error to load the bases with one out. After Illinois recorded the second out at home, a pair of errors allowed two more runs to score. A dropped fly ball then capped the four-run inning and gave Nebraska a 4-0 lead.
After being retired in order in the first four innings, Illinois exploded for a six-run fifth to take a 5-4 lead. A leadoff error was followed by a double. A sacrifice fly gave Illinois its first run before an RBI double cut the Husker lead to 4-2. An RBI single then trimmed the lead to 3-2 and marked the end of the day for Wallace. Ferrell came on with runners at first and second with one out and retired her first batter before a two-out, two-run double gave Illinois the one-run lead. A bloop single allowed the sixth and final run of the inning to score.
Nebraska went quietly in the bottom of the fifth before plating the winning runs in the bottom of the sixth. Senior Riley Unzicker, freshman Billie Andrews and Edwards drew three consecutive one-out walks to load the bases. Unzicker then scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 5-4. That set the stage for Ybarra’s three-run homer to center on the eighth pitch of her at bat.
Ferrell then retired the first two batters in the top of the seventh before a walk and a single put the tying runs on base and brought the winning run to the plate. But Ferrell coaxed a fly out to center to wrap up the victory.
Nebraska returns to action next weekend, when the Huskers travel to Minneapolis for a four-game series with Minnesota.