Nearly one year after its 2020 season abruptly came to an end, the Nebraska softball team will open its 2021 season this weekend at the Sleepy Hollow Sports Complex in Leesburg, Fla. The Huskers will play three doubleheaders in three days in the Sunshine State, facing Indiana twice on Friday, Michigan State twice on Saturday and Ohio State twice on Sunday.
This weekend’s action kicks off a 44-game conference-only schedule that has the Big Red playing multiple games against each of the other 13 Big Ten Conference teams. In addition to the games this weekend, Nebraska will play three-game series against No. 17 Michigan and Purdue in two weeks back at the Sleepy Hollow Sports Complex. The Huskers will then play four-game weekend home series against Penn State, Illinois, Wisconsin and Maryland and four-game weekend road series at Rutgers, Minnesota, Iowa and Northwestern.
Fans can watch all six games this weekend with a subscription to Big Ten Network+. The coverage begins at 9 a.m. (Central) on both Friday and Saturday for the Huskers’ doubleheaders with Indiana and Michigan State, respectively. Sunday’s coverage of the Ohio State doubleheader begins at 2:30 p.m. (Central), although fans are advised that the game could start later due to the length of previous games. Any additional available coverage of this weekend’s games, including live stats, will be posted to the softball schedule page prior to first pitch.
The Huskers are also optimistic about their season outlook. Nebraska returns its primary starter from last season at all eight defensive positions, while bringing back three of its four pitchers. The Huskers return 90 percent of their hits from last season, 88 percent of their RBIs and 82 percent of their runs. In the circle, NU brings back 70 percent of its innings from 2020.
Individually, all-region performers Tristen Edwards and Samantha Owen both chose to return for a fifth season in 2021. Eight freshmen have been added to the fold, three of whom were ranked among the top 100 recruits nationally (MJ Green, Caitlynn Neal and Abbie Squier).
- Friday’s season opener will mark Nebraska’s first game in 355 days. The Huskers last played against New Mexico State on March 8, 2020.
- Friday’s season opener will also mark 659 days since Nebraska’s last game against a Big Ten Conference opponent, which came against Illinois (May 9) at the 2019 Big Ten Tournament.
- The season opener with Indiana will mark the third time in program history Nebraska has opened a season against a conference opponent. NU opened the 1977 season against Big Eight foe Kansas State and the 1994 campaign against Big Eight counterpart Oklahoma.
- Nebraska’s 22-player roster is the largest in school history, and the seven seniors are the most in program history.
- The Huskers have eight true freshmen on the roster, which ties for the most true freshmen in program history.
- Tristen Edwards was named the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year by D1Softball.com, while Caitlynn Neal was chosen as the preseason Big Ten Newcomer of the Year.
- Rhonda Revelle enters her 29th season at Nebraska with 998 wins as the Huskers’ head coach.
What Nebraska Returns on Offense in 2021
Nebraska returns the vast majority of its offensive production from 2020. The Huskers return 13 players who had an at bat last season while losing only four players who had at bats in 2020.
- From an experience standpoint, Nebraska returns the seven players who had the most at bats last season and 11 of the 13 players who had at least 20 at bats in 2020.
- From a production standpoint, Nebraska returns at least 90 percent of its 2020 total in home runs, doubles and hits. The Huskers also return more than 80 percent of last season’s production in RBIs, at bats, runs and walks.
- Individually, Nebraska returns its 2020 statistical leader in every offensive category.
- Tristen Edwards is the Big Ten’s returning leader in hits (33), doubles (10), home runs (11), runs (28) and total bases (76). Edwards also boasts the best returning slugging percentage of any Big Ten player (1.000) and the third-highest batting average (.434).
- Cam Ybarra ranks second among Big Ten returning hitters in doubles – behind teammate Tristen Edwards – after Ybarra had nine doubles in 2020. Both Ybarra and Edwards ranked in the top 25 nationally in doubles in 2020, as Nebraska was one of only five teams in the country with two players in the top 25 nationally in doubles last season.
What Nebraska Returns in the Circle in 2021
Nebraska returns three of its four pitchers from last season. The Huskers bring back their most experienced pitcher in senior right-hander Olivia Ferrell but must replace Lindsey Walljasper, who led Nebraska in wins in 2020 and was second to Ferrell in innings pitched, appearances and starts.
- From an experience standpoint, Nebraska returns more than two-thirds of its 2020 total in innings pitched, appearances and starts. From a production standpoint, the Huskers return 56 percent of their wins from last season and 66 percent of their strikeouts.
- Olivia Ferrell is back after leading Nebraska in appearances (18), starts (11), complete games (3), ERA (4.14), strikeouts (50) and opponent batting average (.269) in 2020.
- Courtney Wallace also returns after posting a 2-2 record in 33.2 innings over 10 appearances during the 2020 season.
- Karlee Seevers rounds out the returning pitchers as she appeared in two games last season.
A Look at Nebraska’s Eight Freshmen
In addition to its 14 returning players, Nebraska’s 2021 roster features eight true freshmen, the highest number of true freshmen in school history. Below is a brief look at each freshman.
- Billie Andrews is the sister of Husker sophomore Brooke Andrews. An infielder from Gretna, Andrews was a four-time All-Nebraska selection who had a .435 career batting average with a 1.200 slugging percentage. Her 57 career home runs were only six shy of the state record.
- Camyl Armendariz is an infielder from La Verne, Calif. One of four Corona Angel products on the Huskers’ 2021 roster, Armendariz batted .431 in her high school career with 23 doubles and 20 home runs, despite playing only one game as a senior due to the pandemic.
- Sydney Gray is one of two Husker freshmen from Arizona who played her travel ball for the Arizona Desert Thunder. An infielder, Gray batted .503 in her career for Bonita High School, while producing 36 doubles, 16 triples and 16 home runs and slugging .884.
- MJ Green is an infielder from Texas who was a travel ball teammate of fellow freshman Abbey Newlun with Scrap Yard International. The infielder was ranked as a top-100 recruit by FloSoftball and was also regarded as one of the top 150 recruits by Extra Inning Softball.
- Kaylin Kinney is the first Iowa native on the Husker roster since 2004. A pitcher and hitter, Kinney was the 2019 Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year. She went 67-7 with a 0.77 ERA and 527 strikeouts to just 40 walks in her prep career, while batting .501, slugging 1.054 and ranking third in state history with 55 career home runs.
- Caitlynn Neal was named the preseason Big Ten Newcomer of the Year by D1Softball. Ranked as the nation’s No. 30 overall recruit by Extra Inning Softball, Neal was a member of the 2019 USA Under-17 Women’s National Team and tossed a two-hit shutout in the gold medal game of the 2019 Pan American Championships. A high school All-American, Neal went 23-2 with a 0.71 ERA in her high school career with a .613 batting average.
- Abbey Newlun was a four-year varsity player for The Woodlands High School in Texas, and she was a travel ball teammate of fellow freshman MJ Green. An infielder, Newlun produced 69 hits – including 28 extra-base hits – and 49 RBIs in her prep career.
- Abbie Squier is the lone Lincoln native on Nebraska’s 2021 roster. Ranked among the nation’s top 100 recruits by Extra Inning Softball, Squier was also named a high school All-American as a junior, when she batted .516 with 15 homers and 65 RBIs.
- Edwards was one of 50 players nationally named to the 2021 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List, the second straight year she appeared on the watch list. She was also named the preseason No. 23 player in the country by Softball America and a third-team preseason All-American by Justin’s World of Softball.
- Edwards was also named the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year by D1Softball, while Neal was named the preseason Big Ten Newcomer of the Year.
Edwards Among Nation’s Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Tristen Edwards was in the midst of a stellar season in 2020 before the season was cut short. In 23 games last season, Edwards hit .434 with 10 doubles, 11 home runs and 22 RBIs.
- Edwards’ 21 extra-base hits ranked second nationally in the shortened 2020 season. She was one of only three players in the country with 20 extra-base hits.
- Edwards was the only player in the country last season with at least 10 doubles and 10 home runs. She ranked fourth nationally in home runs (11) and 14th in doubles (10). Edwards was the only player in the nation to rank in the top 15 in both doubles and home runs in 2020.
- In addition to her lofty ranking in doubles and home runs, Edwards ranked third nationally in slugging percentage (1.000) and total bases (76), fourth in home runs per game (0.48) and 15th in runs per game (1.22).
- Entering 2021, Edwards ranked 18th among all active Division I players in career RBIs (140) and total bases (354), 19th in home runs (44), 22nd in doubles (42) and 23rd in runs (139).
Edwards Threatened School Records in 2020
Senior outfielder Tristen Edwards was in the midst of a potentially historic year in 2020 before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 23 games last season, Edwards hit .434 with 10 doubles, 11 home runs, 21 extra-base hits and a 1.000 slugging percentage.
- Edwards was second nationally in extra-base hits (21) during the shortened 2020 season and was third in slugging percentage (1.000), fourth in home runs (11) and 14th in doubles (10).
- Edwards was on pace to re-write the Nebraska softball season record book in 2020. With 10 doubles, 11 home runs and 21 extra-base hits through 23 games, Edwards was on pace to finish with 24 doubles, 27 home runs and 51 extra-base hits in a typical 56-game regular season. Each of those totals would have been a school record.
- Edwards was also on pace to set a Nebraska season record for slugging percentage (1.000) in addition to finishing with the third-highest average in school history (.434).
Edwards Leaving Her Mark on Husker Record Book
Senior outfielder Tristen Edwards has joined one elite club in Nebraska history, is nearing another and is poised to challenge several Husker career records.
- Edwards is one of only three members of Nebraska’s 40-40 club, which consists of Huskers who have totaled 40 career doubles and 40 career home runs. The other two members of that group are three-time All-American Ali Viola and two-time All-American Taylor Edwards, Tristen’s older sister.
- Edwards is also looking to become Nebraska’s first member of the 50-50 club. No Husker has ever hit 50 career doubles and 50 career home runs, but Edwards enters the 2021 season eight shy of reaching 50 in each category.
- Edwards is nearing another elite group as she needs 10 runs and 10 RBIs to become the fourth Husker to record 150 career hits, runs and RBIs. The other three members of that group were all multi-time All-Americans (Ali Viola, Taylor Edwards and MJ Knighten).
- From a records standpoint, Edwards is on track to break Nebraska’s all-time records in doubles and extra-base hits in addition to challenging several other top marks. Edwards enters the 2021 season needing seven doubles, 13 home runs and 21 extra-base hits to break the Nebraska career record in each of those categories. Edwards averaged 10.5 doubles, 10.5 home runs and 21 extra-base hits over her first four seasons, which consisted of an average of 45 games per season (NU is scheduled for 44 games in 2021).
Husker History in Season Openers
Nebraska owns a 27-17 all-time record in season openers. The Huskers have won six of their last eight season openers, improving Head Coach Rhonda Revelle to 18-10 in her 28 season openers, including a 15-5 mark against unranked opponents.
Revelle Nearing 1,000-Win Milestone
Nebraska head coach Rhonda Revelle begins her 29th season as the Husker head coach this weekend. She enters the 2021 campaign with 998 wins at Nebraska, needing two wins for her 1,000th victory as Husker head coach.
- The all-time wins leader in the history of Nebraska Athletics, Revelle is looking to become the first Husker coach to record 1,000 wins at Nebraska.
- Only seven active Division I coaches have won 1,000 games at their current school. In her bid to become the eighth coach on that list, she would join is Michigan’s Carol Hutchins, which would make the Big Ten the only conference in the country with two head coaches who have won 1,000 games at their schools.
- Revelle picked up her 1,000th career victory last season, as she owns eight victories from her lone season as head coach at Nebraska Wesleyan. Revelle is one of 14 active Division I coaches and 24 Division I coaches all-time to reach 1,000 career victories.
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