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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Late errors cost Wisconsin

Amanda Najdek (pictured) allowed just 1 run, but it was her relacement, Meghan McIntosh, who ended up taking the loss for UW after 8 unearned runs.[/media-credit]

For four innings the Badgers hung tough with Notre Dame, as freshman Amanda Najdek pitched through the Fighting Irish lineup like a fifth year senior.

But when a pitching change removed Najdek in the top of the fifth with two outs, the fight was put back in the Irish, as Notre Dame responded by rocking Badger sophomore Meghan McIntosh for eight runs to beat Wisconsin 9-1 in six innings.

“We were hoping Najdek could go through the Notre Dame lineup twice, and she did,” head coach Yvette Healy said. “We pulled Najdek in the fifth because the Notre Dame hitters were starting to time her up. McIntosh is a rise-ball pitcher, so we wanted to give them a different look. The decision didn’t work out today, but we’ll learn from it and see how we can do a better job next time.”


McIntosh (6-8) worked one inning, suffering eight unearned runs, while Najdek went five innings, giving up one run and six hits.

McIntosh entered the game in the fifth with two outs and the game tied at one apiece. Facing the top of the Irish order, she put Notre Dame star Alexa Maldonado on base when she struck her with a fastball. After walking Alexia Clay, McIntosh finally got what she wanted when Heather Johnson popped the ball up to the gap between right field and the second baseman.

The supposed end to the inning spelled the end of the game for Wisconsin. A communication error resulted in the collision of two Badgers playing the pop up, as the error allowed Notre Dame to take the lead for good.

With the extra out the Irish capitalized and put the game further out of reach. Following the Badger error Notre Dame batter Dani Miller’s deep fly to center received a little help from the wind, blowing out of the park for a three run home run. While Notre Dame enjoyed a five-run fifth inning, they were far from finished. Taking advantage of three Badger errors in the sixth, the Irish reaped the benefits, scoring three more runs at the expense of the Badgers outfield struggles.

“Mistakes hurt a lot. We had a lot of easy plays go wrong for us,” senior Jen Krueger said. “As a team we needed to just buck up and make the next play; it sort of got out of control there. After the inning we were sort of like, whatever. We had to keep fighting, but after the game it sunk in.”

Current reigning Big Ten freshman of the week Najdek voiced optimism after the Badgers let a close one turn into a blowout.

“I’ll always trust the defense that we have,” Najdek said. “Stuff like what occurred today happens in softball.”

The loss on Tuesday did reveal a bright spot for the Badgers, as Najdek continued to shine for Wisconsin on the mound. In her last two appearances the young pitcher has given up only two runs in 11 innings of work.

“Her performance of late has been great; you want to be able to have a lot of people who can throw,” Healy said. “She’s giving us opportunities with her play to put her in. We’re really excited about her outing, and she’s definitely going to throw more.”

Without Najdek the Badgers chose the wrong game to give up unearned runs, as Notre Dame’s pitcher Laura Winter froze the Wisconsin bats. Winter (12-3) allowed three hits over five dominant innings of work, showing a mastery of off-speed pitches and control on the mound.

“She was hitting her spots and moving the ball well,” Krueger said. “She was definitely hittable, but she had good command of her pitches.”

There were early signs of promise for the Badgers against Winter, especially in the second inning when an RBI single by Michelle Mueller scored Abby Gregory from second as the Badgers jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Notre Dame catcher Kristina Wright responded by ending the Badgers’ momentum, gunning down her second Badger of the game when Gregory tried to steal second.

From that point on the Badgers never threatened again, failing to put a runner past first in the last four innings.

“We knew going in to this season we wouldn’t be consistent because we are such a young team,” Healy said. “On paper we knew there was a good chance a game like this would happen, but as coaches and a team we want to win every game.”

Even when Notre Dame relieved Winter from the game, the Badgers went three up and three down against pitcher Jody Valdiva.

Wisconsin will have a chance to erase this loss from memory, as the team finds itself back in action on Thursday.

“You need to learn from games like this and not walk away from this experience,” Healy said. “We were tempted to not even meet after the game and say let it go, but you have to keep teaching and learning. We had a couple communication and decision making errors today which we’ll learn from and correct. I’m hoping with this young squad we learn quickly and put this loss behind us.”

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