The school bus came to a stop just beyond the right-field wall at University Field.
It was a target as the No. 15 Tigers batted in the bottom of the first inning.
Missouri’s first three hitters all batted left-handed and entered the game with a combined 30 home runs. A long fly ball hit in the bus’ direction wasn’t out of the question.
But Leanne Bowers, Janessa Roening and Micaela Minner all lined out against Nebraska pitcher Ashley DeBuhr (21-16). The Tigers’ bats stayed cold for most of Saturday afternoon in a 2-1 loss to the Cornhuskers.
Missouri (37-11, 9-8 Big 12) fell into a fifth-place tie with the Cornhuskers in the conference.
DeBuhr threw a complete game for Nebraska (33-18, 9-8), striking out six and walking two. The three hits she allowed all came in the fifth inning.
She was secretive about her success after the game.
“I always stick with a game plan,” DeBuhr said, grinning. She knew she couldn’t divulge her scouting report since she will likely pitch when the teams play again at 2 p.m. today.
It will be the last home game for seniors Ashley Hays, Erin Kalka and Heather Kunkel.
Nebraska’s defense was sound behind its sophomore right-hander. Cornhuskers second baseman Anne Steffan’s play was especially dazzling.
She speared Roening’s line drive in the first and robbed Kathy Masterson of a hit an inning later.
“They were good,” DeBuhr said of her teammates. “I know I can always come out there and expect that they’ll be out there to make the plays.”
Her Missouri counterpart, freshman Jen Bruck, did not fare as well. She threw with good velocity but had trouble locating the strike zone, walking two in 2 1/3 innings.
Missouri coach Ty Singleton said he knew early in the game that Bruck’s command would be an issue.
To be sure, he sent Erica Peterson to the bullpen shortly after Bruck hit Steffan, the game’s first hitter, with a pitch.
Bruck recovered to retire the next four batters she faced. But with one out in the second, Nebraska catcher Jamie Waldecker hit a home run over the Tiger logo in right center on the first pitch.
Bruck led off the bottom of the fifth with her 13th home run to tie the game. The ball was hit to almost the same spot as the home run she had yielded.
Trisha Tannahill’s double to the left-field corner off Peterson (16-3) in the sixth was the difference. The hit scored Jessica Yoachim, who had led off the inning with a walk.
A win today can clinch a fifth-place Big 12 finish for the Tigers. The top six in the standings automatically qualify for next week’s conference tournament in Oklahoma City. Teams finishing seventh through 10th participate in two play-in games.