The University of Wisconsin women’s softball team had a fairly momentous weekend, taking on the Northwestern Wildcats in their last home series of the regular season.
Even though they were taking on the No. 47 nationally ranked team, the Badgers (27-21-1, 10-9-1 Big Ten) managed to hold their ground and even take a win away from the Wildcats (22-24, 12-8 Big Ten), ending the weekend with a 1-2 record.
Taking wins from a team that is this nationally ranked is not something that is new for this Badgers team — who has managed to steal games from Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue — and they are showing they can play with the big dogs of the Big Ten.
This has been head coach Yvette Healy’s plan from the beginning of the season.
“I think this team just wants to take a swing at the big teams and see if we can get a little bit of respect out of it,” Healy said earlier this season.
Since uttering those words in March, Healy and her team have been on a roll in the Big Ten, with success that continued into this weekend. This weekend also showed the strength of the Wisconsin team, who faced some rather challenging moments during game play.
Saturday’s game was interrupted by the unpredictable Wisconsin weather, causing the second game of the weekend to be delayed in the middle of the second inning. Wisconsin had a 2-0 lead over the Wildcats before the delay of game was called.
Freshman catcher Melanie Cross also suffered an injury during Sunday’s game, taking a hit to her upper knee following a misdirected ball from a Northwestern bat. Cross continued to play for the remainder of the two games, even though it was visible that the hit had taken a toll on her body.
Cross wasn’t the only player who found herself at the end of a badly placed ball during the weekend. Junior Chloe Miller took a hit to the elbow during game two on Sunday, but didn’t show any signs of an injury.
This weekend also marked another milestone for the team, who managed to earn their 10th win in the Big Ten. With wins in that category from all of the Big Ten teams that they have played, the Badgers’ 10th win shows the strength of this year’s team as they prepare for the conference tournament.
“I think we’re just happy that we’re playing such good teams late in the year that it’s going to help us play well at the Big Ten tournament,” Healy said. “There’s nobody that I’m hoping to play and there’s nobody that I’m hoping we don’t play.
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Sunday ended on a melancholy note, with the Badgers celebrating their final home game with the senior class, who are the third winningest class in school history with 128 career wins.
Healy said how proud she is of the way the four seniors — Taylor-Paige Stewart, Macy Oswald, Katie Christner and Ashley Van Zeeland — have helped elevate the program to the level it’s at.
“I’m really happy with what they’ve brought just to make the program into a really great atmosphere,” Healy said. “I think that anybody in the country would want to play here now thanks to what those four helped to create.”