Nebraska senior Brooke Thomason calls it a tell-all weekend.
The Husker softball team, off to a 9-1 start that equals the best in program history, will take on a string of ranked teams at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, Calif.
“It will tell us how we do against the big dogs,’’ Thomason said, ‘‘and if we’re on the same page as them.’’
Those top dogs include No. 1 Oklahoma at 8 p.m. on Friday, ninth-ranked Oregon at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and games Sunday against No. 23 Florida State at 11 a.m. and eighth-ranked California at 1:30 p.m. NU also will play future Big Ten opponent Maryland at 10:30 Friday night.
The Huskers aren’t running for the hills after seeing that lineup. They’re excited about the possibilities.
Thomason said the Huskers’ 9-1 start, with their only setback a 1-0 loss at No. 16 Arizona, has given the team a lot of confidence.
Pitching has been strong, with junior Tatum Edwards (6-1) and freshman Emily Lockman (3-0) combining for a Big Ten-best ERA of 0.98. In the past six games, they’ve allowed only one earned run.
Lockman had her first career no-hitter last weekend against Utah State.
Although NU typically has three to five freshmen in the lineup every game, those youngsters aren’t afraid to swing at the ball. Newcomer Kiki Stokes, the Huskers’ leadoff hitter, leads the Big Ten with 14 runs scored while ranking second in on-base percentage (.641), fourth in walks (9), fifth in batting average (.500) and seventh in stolen bases (3).
“Offensively and defensively, we’ve been playing really well,’’ Thomason said.
The right fielder from Overland Park, Kan., has been doing her part.
She blasted her third career grand slam on Saturday against Utah State, which is believed to be the most ever by a Husker.
She needs only one run this weekend to become the ninth Husker to record 100 career hits, runs and RBIs.
With one home run, she’d total both 30 home runs and doubles in her career.
Thomason, who is hitting .441, said she doesn’t pay attention to the numbers. Her goal is to be a good leader, playing with the same high standards that she once learned from the older Huskers on the team.
Calm, cool and collected with some power is how she describes her game.
“I want to bring a lot of composure and consistency to the plate,’’ she said. “Those two things are really vital for a team to have. Being able to handle your successes and failures in a positive manner. You don’t want to be freaking out if you’re in a slump or didn’t make a play you wanted.’’
She felt some pressure opening weekend, when it hit her that this was her last season. She’s trying to forget about that, saying it was tiring and it would be selfish to focus on herself.
“This team isn’t about me. It’s about the girls who have worked so hard to get here,’’ she said. “As much as that is in the back of your head, you have to get over it. You have to make sure you understand this is about the team and not one player.’’
Having said that, she’d still love to take the Huskers another step in her final year.
“Definitely, this is the year,’’ she said. “This is such a strong team. If we play to our standards and play really hard, we can make that happen. We can make it to Oklahoma in June.’’
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