Photo Courtesy of UNO Athletics
LINCOLN, Neb. – Campbell Ditto’s three-run homer helped the Omaha softball team finally get over the hurdle and knock off No. 19 Nebraska, 3-2, on Tuesday evening at Bowlin Stadium.
The Mavericks – who had been 0-5 against NU since making the Division I transition despite losing three of the five games by one run – improved to 21-13 overall. Nebraska fell to 26-13. It also marked the Mavericks’ first win over a ranked Division I foe since the transition that began in 2011-12.
Ditto’s three-run homer in the third inning was one of four Maverick hits, but it was a huge one. UNO took the 3-0 lead right down to the Huskers’ last out, but Taylor Edwards struck for a two-run homer to make things interesting. Things then got even more interesting when Hailey Decker singled and Tatum Edwards reached on an error to put the tying run on second and winning run on first with two outs. But Elsasser collected herself and got Alicia Armstrong to ground up the middle. Elsasser reached back to her right, snagged the ball and tossed it to Amber Lutmer at first to barely beat Armstrong.
Offensively, the Mavericks came out swinging and tallied three infield hits early on to grow their confidence against Taylor Edwards, the NU ace who struck out 10 Mavs and allowed just one hit in a 10-0 (5 inn.) shutout on March 26 in Omaha. Two of those infield singles – by Tara Trede and Sydney Hames – put runners on the corners for Ditto with two outs in the third. The sophomore catcher laced a line drive home run over the left field fence to spark the Mavs to the 3-0 lead. It was her ninth home run this season, second-most in the Summit League.
Meanwhile, Elsasser picked up where she left off on Sunday after shutting out North Dakota State. The senior ace allowed just one hit through the first three innings and held the Husker bats at bay all game, holding them to six hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Three of the six hits came in the bottom of the seventh. Edwards’ two-run blast with two outs in the bottom of the seventh broke up the shutout and ended Elsasser’s shutout streak at 15.2 innings.
Decker then singled just out of the reach of shortstop Tonya Peterson, and an infield error on a grounder by Tatum Edwards put the tying run on second and winning run on first for Armstrong. But Elsasser was finally able to secure a win for the Mavs against the Huskers after coming up one run short twice in 2012 and once in 2013. Her athletic stop of Armstrong’s grounder up the middle ended the Huskers’ chances of breaking the Mavericks’ hearts again.
Ditto finished 1-for-3 with three RBI, while Allie Mathewson and Hames each had a hit and run. Trede was 1-for-3, and Lia Mancuso reached twice on walks. Mancuso charged in to make an underhand grab and Mathewson made a clutch catch at the warning track for the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh before NU tried to rally.
“I think it was just the players pulling together stronger this time around and having each other’s backs all the way through the game, picking each other up when something wasn’t going our way,” Head Coach Jeanne Scarpello said. “I think we did a much better job putting the ball in play. Doing that just helps because I think it made our players believe they were going to get the key hit when needed.”
The Mavericks resume Summit League action this weekend with a three-game series at Fort Wayne, beginning with a 2 p.m. doubleheader on Friday.