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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Softball: Badgers batter Valparaiso, score 21 runs in double-header sweep

Herald File Photo
Fifth-year head coach Yvette Healy’s team swept a double-header against Valparaiso Wednesday afternoon at Goodman Diamond.

In an otherwise foggy day at the Goodman Diamond Wednesday afternoon, the Badgers had clear vision in the batter box, combining for 21 runs in a two game mercy-rule sweep of Valparaiso.

The first game between the Badgers (16-20, 1-7 Big Ten) and Valparaiso (8-25, 2-6 Horizon) looked promising at the start for the Crusaders, as the visitors took a 2-0 lead following a two-run homerun by infielder Mollie Lindeman in the top of the second inning. In the final three frames, Wisconsin pitcher Mariah Watts took command on the mound, shutting Valpo out for the remainder of the game.

The Badgers’ bats came alive in the bottom of the third inning as second baseman Megan Tancill started a three-run frame off with a single, eventually scoring with a single by outfielder Maria Van Abel to tie the game at two apiece. A subsequent defensive error by the Crusaders and RBI double by catcher Chloe Miller put the Badgers up 3-2, a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.


After failing to score and stranding three runners on base in the top of the fourth inning, Wisconsin put the dagger in any chance of a Valpo comeback with a 7-run inning in the bottom of the frame. Leading the charge for Wisconsin was a bases-clearing triple by Tancill to extend the lead to 6-2, followed by designated hitter Marissa Mersch’s two-RBI double, making it 8-2.

Wisconsin added on two more runs to end the frame at 10-2, a lead they held on to in the five inning mercy rule win. Watts picked up her team-leading seventh win of the season.

After an inconsistent offensive stretch for the Badgers in several March road trips, head coach Yvette Healy believes a return to the Goodman Diamond was exactly what her team needed to get back on track.

“It’s been fun to be at home. I think since we’ve been here, we’ve been swinging the bats really well, running bases well, and it’s been a team effort, not just one kid,” Healy said. “We’re excited to see the ball fly and see people run bases, and anytime you can put up runs, especially in front of your home fans, it’s fun.”

Pitcher Taylor-Paige Stewart took the mound for the Badgers as they aimed to take home the doubleheader sweep. Stewart confidently blazed through Valpo’s first three hitters for a perfect opening inning with consecutive strikeouts.

The Crusaders’ starting pitcher Taylor Weissenhofer found herself in an early hole after a combination of command issues with pitch placement and defensive miscues in the field. Following a walk to first-baseman Stefanni LaJeunesse with the bases loaded, the Badgers took an early lead. Later in the inning, an error by shortstop Stephanie Moreno allowed two additional runs to score. A bases-loaded walk gave the Badgers a four-run lead despite only one ball leaving the infield during the frame.

Continuing her dominance on the mound, Stewart allowed just one base runner through two innings on one walk, recording seven strikeouts in the process to leave Valpo hitless and scoreless.

Wisconsin recorded just its fourth homerun of the season in the bottom of the second after Miller cleared the left field fence for a commanding 5-0 lead. Despite a fast offensive start, the homerun was only the second hit of the game for the Badgers.

Valpo’s first legitimate offensive threat came in the top of the third after a single by Moreno and two consecutive walks with two outs loaded up the bases. With the shutout hanging in the balance, Stewart managed to force an infield popup to get Wisconsin out of the jam.

Stewart, who finished her outing with 11 strikeouts, is no stranger to the unpredictable Madison weather and credited her previous playing experience to not allowing the misty and cold conditions affect one of her strongest performances on the season.

“I think with this being my third year here, you just learn how to adjust,” Stewart said. “Definitely as a freshman, it was a factor and a variable you start thinking about more, but I think by junior year, you start warming up outside and figure out your adjustments early before the game. So when you get into game time, it shouldn’t affect you much.”

The Badgers continued their offensive onslaught in the bottom of the third, tallying five more runs. Van Abel highlighted the frame with an RBI triple and Mersch later drove her home for an 8-0 lead. Later in the frame, a two-out RBI double by shortstop Ashley Van Zeeland followed a bunt-single by Briana Flagaur made it 10-0 before Weissenhofer could end the damage with a strikeout.

Valpo’s Taylor Nadler found the gap in left center for an RBI single in the top of the fourth, putting the Crusaders on the board for the first time since the second inning of the first game, ending a six-inning scoring drought. After looking nearly untouchable in the first three frames, Stewart walked four batters in fourth, including two with the bases loaded, to cut Wisconsin’s lead down to 10-2 after three outs.

A bases-loaded groundout by Miller tacked on an insurance run for the Badgers in the bottom of the fourth, which required Valpo to score at least two runs in their next frame to avoid their second consecutive mercy-rule loss of the day. Despite putting a runner in scoring position, Stewart closed out the 11-2 victory fittingly with a strikeout in a two-hit outing for her sixth win of the year.

The Badgers are back in action this Friday at home against Iowa, with the first pitch of the series opener scheduled for 5 p.m.

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