Softball: Badgers take weekend series against Michigan State, inch closer to home opener in Madison

Multiple late-inning scoring bursts lead to series victory in first weekend of Big Ten play

· Mar 26, 2023 Tweet

Marissa Haegele/The Badger Herald

After a month-and-a-half of traveling to tournaments and matching up against some of the top teams in the nation, the University of Wisconsin softball team made their Big Ten Conference debut this past weekend, facing the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing, Michigan.

Due to scheduling conflicts Saturday, the Badgers and Spartans played a double-header Friday and finished the weekend with a Sunday matinee.

The Badgers won the first game of the series 5–3, lost the second 3–8 and came back to win the series in the third with a final score of 9–3.

Friday, UW junior Skylar Sirdashney, hitting in the leadoff spot, was the spark plug for the Wisconsin offense in game one of the day. Even with Michigan State establishing an early 1–0 lead, Sirdashney would propel the cardinal and white forward at the plate.

In the third inning, the Texas native stole home and scored the first run of conference play for the Badgers. Her teammate, catcher Kayla Konwent, intentionally got into a rundown to allow Sirdashney to score.

Two frames later, Sirdashney gave Wisconsin a 3–1 lead with a two-run home run to left field. Her first belt of the season would bring home sophomore Brooke Kuffel.

Later in the inning, the Badgers continued to rally. True freshman Rylie Crane, who strung together multiple quality performances herself over the weekend, slapped a two-RBI double down the left field line and extended Wisconsin’s lead to 5–1.

UW relief pitcher Maddie Schwartz was able to shut down the Spartans after running into some trouble in the bottom of the fifth. In the end, Wisconsin earned itself a 5–3 victory to kick off Big Ten play.

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Just 30 minutes later, game two commenced. The Spartans’ offense got hot against the Badgers’ pitching staff — they put up eight runs in total against three different Wisconsin pitchers.

Michigan State scored the first four runs of the game by blitzing the Badgers offensively and defensively. Wisconsin was finally able to break through in the fourth inning after Konwent hit a home run to center field — her sixth of the season.

Unfortunately for the team, they could not string together another big inning. The Spartans were able to score again in the sixth inning. Michigan State ended up pulling away in a long day of softball, and they took an 8-3 victory as the sun set on a brisk, spring evening.

After a day off Saturday, both teams returned to Secchia Stadium on Sunday to play for the series victory.

It was all Michigan State early — small ball and a couple of errors from the Badgers led to a quick 2–0 advantage for the Spartans. Sophomore Molly Schlosser got a rally started in the fifth inning, though, which allowed Wisconsin to put up crooked numbers for the rest of the game.

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Infielder Katie Keller’s 2-run home run gave the cardinal and white a 3–2 lead, and it led to the Badgers putting up a four-spot in the fifth. They would follow it up with two more runs in the sixth and three in the seventh. Wisconsin completely took advantage of the back end of Michigan State’s pitching staff.

Schlosser and sophomore Ellie Hubbard each had two hits in the final game of the weekend. The entire lineup powered the Badgers to a 9–3 victory and overall weekend triumph. In relief, Schwartz once again picked up a win after throwing four innings and only allowing one hit.

This group enters week two of conference play with an overall record of 15-9, including a 2-1 mark in conference play.

Badger faithful will finally get to see their Badgers compete at the Goodman Diamond this upcoming week. Wisconsin will face-off against UW-Green Bay on Tuesday in a doubleheader, weather permitting. Then, over the weekend, Wisconsin will host the Illinois Fighting Illini in a three-game battle in the Big Ten.

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This article was published Mar 26, 2023 at 8:00 pm and last updated Mar 27, 2023 at 5:32 pm

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