The University of Wisconsin softball team continued rolling in this young season, improving to 12-2 on the year after the Sheraton Invitational this weekend.

The Badgers faced the Florida International University Panthers (11-5), the Boston College Eagles (8-7), the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles (8-6), the Hofstra University Pride (5-5) and the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights (1-8).

Wisconsin started off the weekend hot against Florida International, cruising to a 5-0 shutout win behind the dominant pitching of Kirsten Stevens. The Badgers started off the scoring in the second frame when Stephanie Lombardo hit a gapper to right center, scoring Jordan Little all the way from first. Some situational hitting in the third allowed Wisconsin to jump to a 3-0 lead after a Sara Novak RBI-bunt single and sacrifice fly by Brooke Wyderski.

In the fifth inning a walk, hit batsman and wild pitch created a second and third no-outs situation for freshman Kayla Konwent. Konwent sent a pitch right back up the middle, scoring two, and collecting her first hit and RBIs of the season in the process. The 5-0 lead would be plenty for Stevens, who improved to 3-0 with a .39 ERA on the year. All of Stevens’ wins have been shutouts.

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Sloppy play in the field and missed opportunities got the best of the Badgers in the second game of the day against Boston College. Wisconsin committed four errors in a 4-1 loss to the Eagles. Kaitlyn Menz retired the first two Eagle hitters in the bottom of the second, but a fielding error extended the inning and eventually lead to an RBI single. Another error in the third inning put a runner in scoring position. The runner was brought home by a two-out RBI single up the middle.

In three of the first four innings, Wisconsin stranded two baserunners, unable to bring them home. In the fifth inning, down 2-0, the Badgers got on the board on an infield single by Novak. The Eagles tacked on two more two-out RBIs in the bottom of the fifth, increasing the Boston College lead to 4-1.

Wyderski represented the tying run in the top of the seventh, but popped out to the shortstop to end the game. Menz pitched the complete game but received the loss, dropping to 5-2 on the year still maintaining a 1.47 ERA.

On the second day of the invitational, the Badgers’ pitching shined. In their double-header against Florida Gulf Coast and Hofstra, the pitching duo of Stevens and Menz combined for 14 innings and zero runs in 6-0 and 4-0 wins.

The long ball helped Wisconsin get the win against Florida Gulf Coast with Chloe Miller and Kelsey Jenkins each going deep. Miller’s came in the first inning and the Badgers added a run in both the third and fourth innings to increase their lead to 3-0.

With two outs and a runner on third in the sixth inning, Brianna Flugaur reached on an infield single to shortstop, bringing home Gabby Scherle on third. Jenkins then got a hold of one on a full count, sending the ball over the right-center fence — issuing the dagger to the Eagles. Menz, who pitched her sixth complete game of the season, picked up the win improving to 6-2.

The Badgers took on Hofstra the same day for the second time this season. Wisconsin took the last matchup 7-5 last weekend. It was the Badgers who got on the board first once again. Wisconsin loaded up the bases in the second inning with two outs when Miller was hit by a pitch, forcing home the game’s first run. Taking advantage of the situation, Wyderski sent a base hit into right, scoring two more and increasing the lead to 3-0.

In the top of the third, Konwent took the first pitch she saw and drove it to left, clearing the outfield fence and giving Wisconsin the 4-0 lead. Stevens had a phenomenal day on the mound, pitching the complete game shutout — her fourth — while scattering four hits and fanning 11 Pride batters, a season high.

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The final day of the invitational offered a brief Big Ten preview as the Badgers took on Rutgers. Wisconsin took advantage of the one-win Scarlet Knights with another strong offensive showing and quality pitching, taking the morning match by a score of 5-1. The Badgers scored one run each inning from the second through the fifth, with the help of three separate RBI singles by Kelly Welsh, Novak and Miller.

Menz got the start again and delivered, going 6.2 scoreless innings. Menz struck out three batters, walked one and allowed five hits. The victory put Menz at a 7-2 record with an ERA of 1.11. Combined with Stevens, the two average a .70 ERA.

Wisconsin will now head to Houston this upcoming weekend for five games in the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic against the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, the Sam Houston State University Bearkats, the Princeton University Tigers (for two games) and the University of Houston Cougars.