On Sunday afternoon, the Rutgers softball team completed its first weekend series against Nebraska. The Scarlet Knights (5-15, 5-15), playing on their new turf for the first time, lost the first two games against the Cornhuskers (11-9, 11-9) before rebounding and taking the final two games of the series.
Rutgers lost its home opener 12-3 on Friday afternoon. Nebraska jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first before the Knights were able to pull one back on graduate student utility player Gabrielle Callaway’s home run in the bottom of the first.
From there though the Cornhuskers tacked on six more before a solo home run by freshman infielder Megan Herka stopped the run and made the game 8-2.
Nebraska put up four more runs and the game ended 12-3. Despite the loss, both Callaway and sophomore infielder Payton Lincavage had good games. Callaway went 2-3 with two RBIs and a home run. Lincavage went 1-2 with her first career triple.
On Saturday, Rutgers and the Cornhuskers participated in a doubleheader. Nebraska took the first game 8-1 but the Knights took one back in the second game, winning 10-6.
In the first game, the Cornhuskers started quickly scoring five runs in the top of the first thanks in part to a grand slam by Peyton Glatter. Rutgers was able to get one run back when sophomore infielder/catcher Kiersten Withstandley singled to score Callaway in the third inning.
That was the closest the Knights ever got as Nebraska tacked on three more runs to win the game 8-1. Hitchcock got the start with sophomore pitcher Jaden Vickers pitching six innings in relief.
In the second game due to a late surge, Rutgers was able to get one game back. In the first four innings, the game went back and forth. The Cornhuskers scored early again loading up the bases and notching one run in the top of the first.
The Knights responded at the bottom of the first when graduate student utility Anyssa Iliopoulos hit a two-run home run. The home run was Iliopoulos' first of the year and her 25th homerun in her career.
Nebraska tied the game in the top of the third, but Rutgers responded again with two runs in the bottom of the third thanks to bases loaded double by freshman infielder Kayla Bock.
In the fourth inning, the Cornhuskers got three more runs and the Knights got another run to tie the game up at 5-5. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Rutgers blew the game open when Callaway hit a grand slam to take the lead up to 9-5.
Though Nebraska got a run back, a run from Bock put the Knights back up by 4 and the game ended 10-6. Hitchcock got her second win of the year pitching 3.1 innings in relief and striking out two Cornhuskers.
On Sunday, Rutgers played its final game of the series. This game was defensively driven and the Knights were able to win 2-1. The game was scoreless until Nebraska struck first with a run in the top of the sixth. Rutgers struck back with a two-run home run from Callaway in the bottom of the sixth. This was Callaway’s third home run of the series and fourth home run of the year.
Those would be the only runs scored in the game as the Knights would hold on to win 2-1. Iliopoulos went 2-3 with a double in the win and Hitchcock got her second straight win as she pitched all seven innings, allowing one run and getting two strikeouts. With the win, Rutgers split the weekend series with the Cornhuskers.
Callaway ended the series hitting .500 with six hits, three home runs and a double. She also had five runs and eight RBIs in the game. Callaway and the Knights will look to continue their momentum when they go down to University Park, Pennsylvania to take on Penn State for a weekend series beginning Friday at 5 p.m.
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