It had been 265 days since the University of Wisconsin softball team (4-1) played their last game of the 2018 season. But they returned fresh and ready for a new season in the Lonestar Collegiate Classic in Houston, Texas this weekend.
Friday morning, the Badgers secured two run-ruling wins against Nebraska-Omaha and Lamar.
In game one, the Badgers found themselves down one run early versus Omaha after just one inning. An early deficit only added fuel to the Badger’s fire that was about to take place on offense.
Senior Kelly Welsh tied the game in her first at-bat of the season with a single to center-field, capitalizing on a walk drawn by Lauren Foster. Continuing the inning, freshman Ally Miklesh earned her first RBI as a Badger to give UW a 2-1 lead going into the third inning.
Seniors Melanie Cross and Welsh led the way at the plate through the game with a combined batting average of over .800.
Omaha would not score another run for the rest of the game thanks to the dominant pitching of Haley Hestekin.
Taylor Johnson sealed the game for the Badgers with a walk-off single in the bottom of the fifth — enforcing the mercy run rule with — the final score being 9-1.
Game two for Wisconsin came against the Cardinals of Lamar. Early Wisconsin domination proved the Badgers superiority early on.
Freshman pitcher Maddie Schwartz threw her first career shutout as a Badger in an 8-0 blowout over the Cardinals. Schwartz allowed only two hits and three walks in five innings.
This set the stage for The Badger offense to continue their dominant performance at the plate.
The offensive star of game two was Caroline Hedgcock. Hedgcock led the way with three hits and a perfect game at the plate.
Three badgers would hit for power. Miklesh, Welsh and Kayla Konwent all hit triples as Cross smashed her first home run of the season over the left field wall in the fourth inning.
With bases loaded, Konwent stepped up to the plate to deliver the final blow against the Cardinals, securing the 8-0 victory in five innings. This sent the Badgers into day two of the tournament on a high note.
The Badgers would face Omaha again in a redemption match Saturday night. Yet again, the Badgers proved their domination at the plate. Cross, Jordan Little and Konwent all exploded for home runs, accumulating seven runs.
Freshman Tyra Turner had her first perfect day at the plate, while Hedgcock earned her first career win as a Badger from the circle.
Omaha couldn’t extinguish the fire of the Badger offense as Wisconsin secured their third straight run-rule win with a whopping 15-0 final score.
The biggest game of the tournament was saved for last as the Badgers stepped onto the field to take on a sturdy Texas Tech team out of the BIG 12 conference.
In 2018, both teams finished with nearly identical records and were ready to settle the score about who was the better team.
The hot Badger offense stayed active at the plate early on, but could not stop the Red Raiders defensively.
Wisconsin found themselves down 4-1 in the third inning. Not giving up hope, Johnson slammed a two-run homer over the right field wall to make it a one-run game.
It seemed as if Wisconsin had a chance to fight their way back to the lead, but Texas Tech had a different plan in mind.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Red Raiders racked up three more runs and Red Raider pitcher, Erin Edmoundson made sure the Badgers remained scoreless the rest of the way.
Badgers drop their first of the season 8-3.
Wisconsin rounded out the tournament Sunday with an 8-0 win over Lamar, continuing to show offensive efficiency.
The Badgers are back in action this weekend partaking in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Raleigh North Carolina. They’ll play their first game against Pittsburgh University Friday at 12:30 p.m.