Thursday, May 19, 2016
Knighten, Barrow two Huskies that Softball Cards must respect -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
CORNHUSKER HITTERS A CHALLENGE FOR CARDS
...from the "know the foe" files...
As Louisville Softball prepares for NCAA Regional softball today in Columbia. MO against the Nebraska Cornhuskers...two NU players in particular will look to have an impact at the plate when they face either Maryssa Becker or Megan Hensley.
M.J. Knighten has a long distance relationship going on with Mr. Spalding. The junior has sent him on over-the-fence journeys 21 times this season and when she crushes one there is usually no doubt that it's going to be a fence clearer. She is second in the nation in four-baggers.
The stat is impressive when you consider opponents often choose to pitch around her. She's received the free pass 39 times this season...but that doesn't bother her.
"I'm not over analyzing it or making it too big a deal -- like 'Oh, my gosh, their walking me again' I'm just taking it like 'I'm getting on base again for my team.' "
In those rare moments when she gets a chance to swing the bat, any thing is fair game.
" Any pitch that's in my wheelhouse, I'm going to take a hack at. I have to trust what I see, what I know and my mechanics at the plate and approach every pitch like that."
* * * * * * *
Husker second baseman Laura Barrow is an advocate of the hard work approach in compiling a recent 12 for 27 (.444) hitting streak over the last nine games.
Showing up early to practice to get extra reps in. Coming back to the indoor facility at night. the work has made a difference in raising her average to .295 after floundering early in the season around the .200 mark. The sophomore explains:
"I kind of think I was too hard on myself at the beginning of the season. I really wanted to make an impact this season so I put a lot of pressure on myself. Then, in the middle of the season I kind of had to step back and I talked a lot to the coaches and we really decided it was in my head."
A move that sent her to batting ninth in the lineup by Husker head coach Rhonda Reville has paid dividends for the Huskers. If Barrow gets on...opponents then have to face leading hitter Kiki Stokes and then Knighten.
Nebraska slugged by Purdue 8-0 in six innings to make the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament but fell to Penn State 8-7 on the Nittany Lions home turf in University Park, PA.
A pivotal point of the season came in early April for Nebraska. Having lost six of their previous nine games and after a disappointing defeat by Maryland, the Huskers had a players-only meeting where a lot of heart-to-heart and frank discussion took place, according to Knighten. After that, they ran off a five-game win streak and took eight of their next ten.
Here's hoping the Hit and Pitch Cards can quieten Knighten and bury Barrow today to advance in the winner's bracket portion of the double-elimination format. This one will be on ESPN 2 at 5:30 ET.
(portions of today's article were used from articles in The Lincoln (NE) Journal-Star)