If the Badgers didn’t have any superstitious routines 10 games ago, they probably do now.
The Wisconsin women’s softball team spent its Easter weekend in University Park, Penn., sweeping a three-game series with conference rival Penn State, stretching its winning streak to 10.
Fresh off a series sweep against Bucknell University last Wednesday, Penn State (14-26, 5-10 Big Ten) kept its momentum going Friday afternoon. In the first couple of innings, the Badgers were kept at bay failing to put any numbers of its own up.
In the top of the third inning, however, the Nittany Lions lost their hold on UW, turning the Badgers loose. After Katie Christner and Megan Tancill reached base on an error and a fielder’s choice, leadoff hitter Mary Massei homered over the center field fence for her eighth of the year, catapulting UW into the lead. As if a 3-run head start wasn’t enough, three batters later senior Stephanie Peace sent another one out of the park for her sixth homer of the season. That was followed directly by a double by freshman Chloe Miller who eventually found her way home on a single by teammate Ashley Van Zeeland, scoring the fifth run of the inning.
The bottom of the fifth saw a small comeback by Penn State when leftfielder Alyssa Sovereign doubled to left center, and eventually went on to put her team on the scoreboard after a fielder’s choice allowed her to reach home.
The ground made up by PSU, however, was taken away in the top of the next inning by the Badgers when Miller lead off the inning with another Wisconsin home run, putting UW five runs ahead again.
The Nittany Lions put everything they had in the bottom of the final inning, playing a small-ball inning and scrapping together a couple last runs on a string of infield singles, fielder’s choices and walks, but in the end was unable to make up for the Badgers’ third inning as UW came away winners 6-3.
Badgers Blank Nittany Lions
The two teams were back at it the next afternoon, but Penn State was unable to get any momentum going against Wisconsin, and was shut out 4-0.
In the top of the fourth, UW centerfielder Marissa Mersch doubled to start things off, stole third when teammate Michelle Mueller lined out to the shortstop, and eventually scored on a passed ball, making the score 1-0.
The next three runs by Wisconsin were all scored in the top of the sixth, when Mersch doubled again to get things going. Two batters later, Peace singled to left field, picking up her first RBI of the game as Mersch crossed home. Miller stepped into the batter’s box next, and picked up two more RBIs as she ripped another home run off Penn State pitcher Macy Jones for a final score of 4-0.
Hailing from Bettendorf, Iowa, the freshman powerhouse has been having a successful first season at UW, currently batting .295 (fifth on the team) with a slugging percentage of .571 (third on team).
UW secures the sweep
The second half of the double header started after a short break, and, similar to the last two games, took a few innings for both teams to get into the swing of things.
The Badgers were once again the first to score, putting up three runs in the third inning, consisting mainly of errors and fielder’s choices on Penn State’s part.
After reaching on a single of her own, Tancill advanced to third when Massei doubled to left field.
After Mersch reached on an error, Mueller stepped up to bat with bases loaded, but ended up reaching first on a fielder’s choice when Penn State pitcher Marlaina Laubach threw home to prevent Tancill from scoring. After two errors in a row by PSU, UW plated three unearned runs as Mueller, Mersch and Massei all crossed home plate, jumping the score up to 3-0.
But Wisconsin wasn’t finished. An inning later, Van Zeeland kept the hot streak going as she singled up the middle, and advanced to second on a sacrifice by teammate Maria Van Abel. Tancill later reached on an error, and advanced to second on an error, pushing Van Zeeland over to third. With two runners in scoring position, Massei was due up again, and came through for UW as she doubled to left field, sending both Van Zeeland and Tancill home.
The bottom of the same inning, the Nittany Lions finally landed on the scoreboard. After Reina Furuya was hit by a pitch to start off the inning, back-to-back singles by Kasie Hatfield and Shelby Miller loaded the bases. After a teammate flew out to the UW shortstop, Karlie Habitz singled for Penn State’s first RBI of the game, and a batter later, Alicia Walker grounded out to the shortstop, allowing enough time for Hatfield to reach home.
The remainder of the game brought no runs for either team, totaling out the final score at 5-2 in favor of the Badgers once again. Wisconsin pitcher Cassandra Darrah pitched the first and third games of the series, earning a total of 6 strikeouts and allowing ten hits. Sophomore Taylor-Paige Stewart pitched the middle game, averaging an impressive strikeout per inning and only allowing three hits.
The Badgers will try and continue the winning streak next weekend in a home series when Purdue comes to Madison for a three-game series.