Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Clutch hitting boosts Badgers

When all was said and done and the dust — er, rain — cleared, Wisconsin’s softball team improved to 9-6 in the Big Ten, enough to propel it into fourth place in the conference.

After a one-hour field-maintenance delay, Sunday’s doubleheader against Northwestern began despite the extremely cold and dreary weather at Goodman diamond.

“This was huge to get these games in today,” UW head coach Karen Gallagher said. “We were going to play these games; there was no question in my mind.”

The first game provided an exciting start when Northwestern pitcher Lauren Schwendimann seemed determined to hit every Badger batter in the lineup.

Schwendimann officially totaled four players hit-by-pitch, but in a questionable call in the bottom of the fifth inning the home-plate umpire ruled shortstop Kristin Zacher leaned into a pitch in her bunt attempt and refused to award her first base.

“I think Northwestern’s pitcher has a curve ball that goes in,” Gallagher said. “It might have been weather-related — she probably was not gripping the ball as well as she usually does when the weather is more manageable.

“She is known for that — we went through a spell last year where she hit a couple of our players, but it puts people on base for us, bottom line.”

Despite the inside pitching from Schwendimann, UW was unable to get on the board until Kerry Hagen scored Sheena Padovan from third base in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game at 1-1, sending it into extra innings.

In the bottom of the ninth, Zacher started off with a single up the first-base line and Anna Jones followed with a walk.

Meghann Reiss stepped to the plate and hit a long fly ball to the centerfield wall, scoring Zacher and winning the game for the Badgers.

But any momentum did not carry over, and game two began with the Wildcats scoring first again.

Northwestern took home right away in the bottom of the first inning, and the Badgers did not answer until the top of the third.

Mandy Liles led off the inning with a single and Zacher reached base on a perfectly laid bunt to advance Liles to second. A sacrifice fly by Reiss allowed both runners to advance, and Northwestern walked Nicki Starry to load the bases.

Padovan then stepped up to the plate and cracked a powerful fly ball to centerfield, clearing the bases.

“I was really confident going up to the plate,” Padovan said. “I was like, ‘I want to be at the plate now.’ I just kept telling myself, ‘This is what you want, you want this pressure on you and you want to come through in a big game.'”

Things got exciting again in the bottom of the seventh when Wildcat Erin Mobley scored on a blast to the outfield by Rane Gunderson. Andrea Kirchberg stopped the bleeding after that second run, however, and the Badgers came out on top, 3-2.

Reiss and Padovan each ended the day 3-6 with one and three RBIs, respectively.

Each made game-winning hits.

“[These games were] two huge wins for our program,” Gallagher said. “We had to do well this weekend and we had to step it up today. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you have your backs against the wall your last weekend.”

Friday’s game against No. 23 Iowa started out extremely intensely as well — neither team could score.

In the top of the third, Iowa finally broke the deadlock and scored two runs on a Wisconsin error to first base.

Three innings later, the Hawkeyes’ senior designated hitter Lori Leon put the game further out of reach with a two-run homerun, which traveled a little more than 225 feet.

UW scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but it proved to be too little too late and the Hawkeyes won 5-2.

Starry went 2-2 at the plate and Anna Jones was 1-2 with two RBIs.

“I felt like we were with them for the first three innings and then we made an error that hurt,” Gallagher said. “We don’t want to see that happening — you don’t do that against a team like Iowa.

“We had the pitching, we had the energy and I thought eventually we would score but we gave them too much,” she continued.

Officials called the second game against the Hawkeyes in the second inning due to inclement weather Saturday.

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