Lincoln weathers Omaha’s late rally


Joe Franco

After dropping its home opener to New Mexico State March 21, the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s softball team hit the road once again for their shortest road trip yet.

UNO made its way west to square off against a University of Nebraska at Lincoln squad that has had their number for last few matchups. After losing to New Mexico State, Omaha was set for retribution against a team who just swept New Mexico State in its last series. The odds were stacked against the Mavericks.

Omaha took a 45-minute bus ride to Lincoln to take on Nebraska on its home field. Playing a college from the same state can always spark up emotions of a rivalry because the winner has bragging rights over the other for an entire year. As history repeats itself, those bragging rights fell into the hands of the Huskers.

The in-state heated matchup was set and fans were at the edge of their seats. The high-scoring offensive display from both teams captivated the fans in a wild 15-11 finish.

Offensively, each team was keyed in at the plate. Every player that saw an at bat for the Mavericks reached on base at least once.

Omaha was led by senior Lia Mancuso and junior Kelly Pattison, each going three-for-five at the plate and combined for three runs batted in and three runs scored as well.

Senior Lizzie Noble started the game off with a leadoff home run to give the Mavericks an early lead. UNO tallied another run when senior Nicole Warren reached on base and allowed Mancuso to score. The early 2-0 lead was the only one of the game for UNO, and they spent the remaining game aiming for a comeback after Lincoln answered in the bottom of the first inning with five runs of their own.

The Huskers added on four more runs in the second inning before both teams were held scoreless in the third. In the fourth inning, both teams traded shots and the Mavs got two runs back, but the Huskers answered in the bottom of the inning with three more runs to take a 12-4 lead. The game looked to be a blowout win for Lincoln.

UNO added one run in the fifth inning and shut down Nebraska to begin its late-game rally. Warren woke up the bats for the Mavericks in the top of the sixth inning by reaching first after a drag bunt and advancing to second on a wild pitch. This type of small-ball effort was the beginning of a comeback attempt for the Mavericks. Freshman Hailey Bartz cranked out a grand slam and Mancuso followed with an RBI single to tally five runs and bring the score to 12-10.

Omaha could not capitalize on its momentum, unfortunately, and surrendered three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. In their last bit of effort in the top of the seventh inning, freshman Emma Dargy hit an RBI double, but that was the last offensive surge for the Mavs and the game ended in a 15-11 final, once again, in favor of Nebraska.

The loss hurts because of the slump Omaha has been in, but the late effort and heart the Mavericks showed there could be a silver lining in their recent losing streak. Taking a team that has typically dominated Omaha all the way down to the wire could be a spark that could ignite a whole new fight for this UNO softball squad.