Head coach Yvette Healy and her team needed something to change after losing their opening game to University of Wisconsin-Green Bay yesterday, 4-2.
So in the second game of the doubleheader, Healy decided to shake up her lineup, hoping a different look would reenergize the Badgers.
Putting pitcher Cassandra Darrah at first base, utility player Whitney Massey behind the plate, traditional shortstop Stephanie Peace at second and first baseman Michelle Mueller at shortstop, Healy looked for her team to respond, and it did.
Backed up in an early 0-1 hole, Wisconsin rallied for five runs to best Green Bay 5-1 in the nightcap and earn a series split.
Bolstered by sophomore Meghan McIntosh on the mound and two RBI’s from junior Karla Powell, the Badgers took care of business with steady run production throughout the entire game.
“We’ve done switches like this before,” Healy said. “We did it on spring break. Shortstop is a big position to handle for a freshman. We have asked a lot of [Peace], and with her banged up we wanted to give her a break. We weren’t trying to send a message but let her know we were behind her and have someone else handle the load, and Mueller did that.”
In the bottom of the second, sophomore Shannel Blackshear led off with a walk. Two sacrifice efforts by Peace and Massey allowed pinch runner Abby Gregory to advance to third base. Then, with two outs, sophomore Kendall Grimm hit a clutch RBI single to tie the game.
“We had a lot more energy in the second game,” Powell said. “In the first game we were really down the whole game. There was no energy in the dugout; it was really unlike ourselves.”
The story was more of the same in the next two innings, as the Badgers jumped Phoenix pitcher Katie Cooney for four more runs in the next two innings thanks to RBI’s from Powell, Blackshear and freshman Mary Massei.
“We just swung the bats better,” Healy said. “They made adjustments and were able to hit the curveball. People put the ball in play and that’s what we challenged them to do. Green Bay had done the same thing in the first game with two strikes on them and made plays. We just told them to not make it so easy.”
In the first game, Wisconsin fell victim to a letdown.
Things looked promising for Wisconsin to start the contest, as Darrah started the game going three up and three down versus the Phoenix. Jennifer Krueger reached first base on an error to start things off offensively, stealing second and third right away to give the Badgers a base runner in scoring position. After Massei went down swinging, Blackshear popped up a bunt that escaped the third baseman to score Krueger as Wisconsin took the lead 1-0 in the bottom of the first.
But in the top of the third, the Phoenix responded. With none on and two outs, Phoenix second baseman Amanda Omahen drilled a double off Darrah to the gap in right center. Green Bay shortstop Sara Junion drilled a 1-0 pitch up the middle the following at bat to score Omahen from second, tying the game at one a piece.
The Badgers took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth thanks to an RBI double by Grimm, scoring freshman Michelle Mueller from second. However, this last piece of hitting would be the last run the Badgers would score in their opening contest with the Phoenix.
“It’s not that we played that bad; they were just better,” Healy said. “They did a really nice job. They’re kids have a lot of fight and talent.”
In the sixth inning, the game unraveled for Wisconsin, as an error and shaky fielding allowed the Phoenix to tack on three runs of their own and seize the lead and the eventual final score of the game, 4-2.
After a leadoff single by Phoenix batter Danielle Peerenboom and a single that resulted from a throw that hit Peerenboom on her way to second, a Badger error allowed the bases to be loaded. The Badgers could not leave the inning unscathed, as two infield hits scored two Phoenix runners before the Badgers got the final out of the inning.
“We should’ve played like we did against Michigan,” Mueller said. “Today we were just flat. We didn’t see the ball well at all. That woke us up; we came out for the second game with more of an anger not to drop both games.”