The University of Wisconsin Softball team (8-1) dominated at the ACC-Big Ten Challenge Tournament in Raleigh, North Carolina last weekend to continue their promising start to the 2019 season.
The Badgers began their weekend by defeating Pittsburgh University (1-8) by a score of 8–0 Friday. A continued dominant performance from the Wisconsin offense propelled the Badgers to victory.
A six-run lead composed in the second inning allowed the Badgers to assert their dominance early.
Senior Kelly Welsh and freshman Jolie Fish started out the inning with consecutive base hits. The first RBI of the game would go to first baseman Stephanie Lombardo as she singled to score Welsh.
Fish would go on to score as Jordan Little reached on a fielder’s choice and an Ally Miklesh single would load up the bases for a Taylor Johnson. Johnson’s sacrifice fly and a defensive error by Pittsburg scored Little and pinch runner Sydney Lawson.
To cap off the inning, junior Kayla Konwent went yard for a two-run home run giving the Badgers an early, 6–0 lead.
Other top offensive performances include contributions from senior catcher Melanie Cross. Cross was two-for-four at the plate with her lone RBI coming off a solo home run in the fourth inning.
Wisconsin would add one more run in the seventh inning with a Caroline Hedgcock double, scoring Welsh.
Not only did the Wisconsin offense dominate this game, but the pitching duo of Haley Hestekin and Hedgcock shut down the Panthers for the entirety of the game.
Only allowing three combined hits and striking out four batters, Hestekin and Hedgcock pitched a combined shutout. This is the fourth shutout of the season from the Badger pitching staff.
Wisconsin faced Pittsburgh again Saturday where even more dominance awaited their opponent.
Both Little and Konwent were two-for-two and Johnson notched her second home run of the year.
The pitching duo of Hestekin and freshman Maddie Schwartz pitched another shutout game, only allowing two hits in an 8–0, five-inning Badger win.
The second Atlantic Coast Conference opponent the Badgers showed off against was the No. 17 North Carolina State Wolfpack (3-6) Saturday.
The headline from the first contest comes from Wisconsin’s ace pitcher Kaitlyn Menz. Menz threw all seven innings, striking out six and only allowing four total hits. The lone NC State run allowed by Menz came on a fielder’s choice play in the bottom of the first inning.
Wisconsin began the scoring in the top of the first with a Fish sacrifice fly to score Welsh. Then, two third-inning runs would put the Badgers up 3–1 after a Cross hit and a wild pitch scored Miklesh and Konwent.
Thereafter, it would be a pitchers’ duel as the next four innings would go scoreless with Wisconsin eventually prevailing in a 3–1 victory.
The second matchup against the Wolfpack showed a little more offense from both teams, but the Badgers would take the tournament sweep with a 6–3 victory, Sunday.
Cross was once again the offensive powerhouse for the Badgers going two-for-four with five RBIs, including a three-run home run in the third — her fourth of the season.
Fish and Miklesh both added two hits and the final RBI went to Welsh to cap off the victory for Wisconsin.
The Badgers defensive performance came from a trio of pitchers that kept NC State guessing and constantly adjusting at the plate.
Hestekin, Schwartz and Menz all stepped into the circle Sunday. Combined, the Wisconsin trio only allowed three hits and struck out three.
After an 8-1 start to the season, and handling a ranked NC State team twice, it is obvious that this Badger team is ready to turn some heads in their upcoming tournaments and series in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin will be back on the field in the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Tournament next weekend in Corpus Christi, TX where they will face TAMUCC three times and Texas Southern University twice. The tournament begins at 10:30 a.m. Friday.