Published Monday, January 13, 2014 at 12:01 am / Updated at 11:53 pm
Huskers’ goal for series: Always be closers

LINCOLN — As Nebraska’s softball players gathered Monday for their first practice of the season, the usual selection of campy pop tunes was flowing through the sound system of the Alex Gordon Training Complex.

If the playlist ever turns to classic rock, there is one song that Taylor Edwards will use her veto power as a co-captain to block — Meat Loaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.”

That’s because the Huskers are looking for three out of three when Big Ten Conference play begins March 21 against Minnesota.

“We need to get better at closing in the later innings,” Edwards said. “We won every series last year but we never swept one. We need to keep throwing punches at our opponents until they’re knocked out.”

In every three-game series against conference foes in 2013, Nebraska won two games. After an early exit from the Big Ten tournament, the Huskers then won an NCAA regional tournament in Lincoln.

They then traveled to Eugene, Ore., and won that Super Regional — taking two of three from Oregon — to advance to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

The journey to what the Huskers hope will conclude with a repeat trip to Oklahoma City begins Feb. 7 at the Hotel Encanto Invitational in Las Cruces, N.M.

After some stretching and fielding drills in the Gordon Center, it was such a nice day that the Husker outfielders were able to go outside for the remainder of the session.

Nebraska will play 28 games before that series with the Gophers at Bowlin Stadium. The first 27 games are road contests, with the home opener scheduled for March 19 against Iowa State.

Edwards and junior Mattie Fowler were appointed co-captains by NU coach Rhonda Revelle and her assistants. Fowler was a co-captain in 2013.

Revelle doesn’t anticipate any problems with focus from this squad. She said the preparations for this season began in the final team meeting last June.

“The questions began with, ‘What are your goals for this summer’ and we never got very far ahead of things,” Revelle said. “They were happy they got to the World Series, and we played two exciting games. But they were still losses.”

Those two extra-inning games were losses to Washington and Florida — one-run setbacks that left the Huskers’ final record at 45-16. It is games like that to which Edwards refers when talking about how the Huskers need to hone their killer instinct.

The Huskers are a young team — Edwards and her twin sister Tatum are the only two seniors on the 16-player roster — but that youthful look can be deceptive. Many of the sophomores and juniors were key contributors a year ago.

“This week and next week we’ll be talking more about goals,” Taylor Edwards said. “Knowing we did go to the CWS last year, we can use the thought process and mindset we had a year ago.”

Revelle said leaning on the experience returning will help the Huskers work through that rugged early season tournament schedule that will feature games against Washington, Oklahoma, Arizona, UCLA, Cal State-Fullerton and Arizona State.

“Now our freshmen have had a year of starting and playing experience, and they can help bring the new players along,” Revelle said.

Taylor Edwards was a third team All-American in 2011 and is the only catcher in Huskers history to earn that distinction. She hit .328 last season with team highs in home runs (13), doubles (14) and RBIs (54).

Tatum Edwards was a second team selection in 2013. She posted a record of 30-10 with a 1.91 ERA and 229 strikeouts.

Contact the writer: Steve Beideck    |   402-618-4113    |  

Steve is a correspondent for The Omaha World-Herald and covers the Omaha Lancers and high school sports.



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