#32 Nebraska Softball 2016 Preview

Nebraska Cornhuskers
Overall Rank: #32
Conference Rank: #3 Big Ten
Nebraska Softball 2016 Preview 
Resilience is what defined the 2015 season for the Nebraska softball team. The Cornhuskers dug themselves a sizeable hole in the early part of the 2015 season after going 2-8 at the Unconquered Invitational and the Mary Nutter Classic to put their record at 6-9. However, from that point on the pitching settled in just enough to propel Nebraska to a 29-14 record the rest of the way to earn another trip to the NCAA Tournament.
2015: 35-23, 17-6
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Rhonda Revelle
Field Players:
This lineup has the potential to once again be very potent with a legitimate shot to equal the 400 run output from last season if not surpass it. Infielder MJ Knighten will pace this lethal offensive attack when it's clicking on all cylinders. Knighten is one of the top hitters in the country as she hit .412 and has the great combination of power and speed. She hit eight homeruns and stole eight bases in ten attempts. Outfielder Kiki Stokes will be back as well in 2016 and she is another very athletic great all-around player that will drive opposing pitchers crazy all year long. It will be interesting to see if Stokes makes a run at 20 homeruns and 20 stolen bases this season after hitting 11 homeruns and stealing 18 bases in 2015.
The pitching has to take a big step forward for the Cornhuskers in order to make a run back to Oklahoma City. Senior Emily Lockman is back and will be the likely number one starter this season, but she won’t be without competition. Kaylan Jablonski, Cassie McClure and newcomer Taylor Kadavy should all see plenty of action in the circle this spring. The key for all four of these pitchers is going to improving their control as Lockman and Jablonski especially walked way too many hitters in relation to their innings pitched.
Who to Watch:
Senior Alicia Armstrong will be looking to close her Nebraska career on a high note and will be looking to build upon a .356 batting average with nine homeruns and 49 runs batted in. If Armstrong can match or surpass those numbers to offset the loss of Stephanie Pasquale to graduation, than that would be a huge bonus for the Cornhuskers lineup.
Final Projection:
The tone of the season will be set right away at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge for Nebraska when they take on NC State and Louisville down in Raleigh during the second weekend of the season. These games against the Wolfpack and Cardinals will be great preparation for the rest of the gauntlet for the Cornhuskers. The following week brings a trip to the Mary Nutter Classic to play Oregon, Florida, San Diego State and Washington. Bottom line, there will not be any mystery about this Nebraska team by the time they start conference play as they will have been battle tested. If the Cornhuskers can survive a nine game gauntlet in Big Ten play starting April 8 against Michigan in Lincoln, then they will be in a great position to make the NCAA Tournament and then make some noise in the postseason thanks to their very explosive offense.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: MJ Knighten, IF, 199
Hits: MJ Knighten, IF, 82
Home Runs: Kiki Stokes, OF, 11
RBIs: MJ Knighten, IF, 60
Runs: Kiki Stokes, OF, 66
Stolen Bases: Kiki Stokes, OF, 18
Wins: Emily Lockman, P, 18
Innings Pitched: Emily Lockman, P, 193.0
Strikeouts: Emily Lockman, P, 102
Complete Games: Emily Lockman, P, 17
Madness 2016 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#59 Brianna Cassidy
Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:
#14 Kiki Stokes