Three tight games highlighted a challenging weekend for the University of Wisconsin softball team, who faced off against No. 20 Northwestern University in a three-game series.
In game one, scoring was hard to come by. Pitcher Maddie Schwartz, though, continued to dominate. The graduate student twirled a seven-inning gem and allowed just one run on four hits to one of the most potent offenses in the Big Ten.
Unfortunately for Schwartz and the Badgers, the offense could not muster a run against the combo of Lauren Boyd and Danielle Williams for the Wildcats. Their largest opportunity arrived with the bases loaded and nobody out in the sixth inning, but UW failed to score. Their inability to capitalize ultimately cost them in this game.
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Northwestern earned their lone run via an RBI walk from Grace Nieto. That’s all they needed, and the Wildcats took game one, 1-0.
Due to inclement weather approaching on Sunday, the final two games of the series were both played on Saturday.
In game two, pitcher Paytn Monticelli got the start in the circle and lasted 2 ⅔ innings after running into some trouble in the third inning. The hard-throwing righty earned swing-and-misses from Northwestern, but she missed some edges at times to a patient Wildcats offense.
Northwestern eventually hit around relief pitcher Tessa Magnanimo, who replaced Monticelli. A home run and a two-RBI single from Skyler Shellmyer was the back-breaker, and the Wildcats extended their lead all the way to 6-1 after six innings.
Infielder Katie Keller was the producer on offense in game two. She accounted for all three of Wisconsin’s RBIs after hitting a solo home run and a two-run blast. Outfielder Brooke Kuffel and Peyton Bannon also chipped in two hits for UW.
The Badgers made a valiant comeback toward the end of the game, but the cardinal and white came up just short with the tying run at the plate. Bannon barreled up a line drive to the outfield, but it was run down and caught. The Badgers would drop game two, 6-3.
Schwartz returned to the circle in game three. The righty threw for nine innings, including a total of 124 pitches on the day.
Williams, for the straight game, came in to relieve the starting pitcher and succeeded in doing so. She shut the Badgers down in the last two innings of play, improving her overall record to 11-1.
Northwestern got their run in the ninth inning from a sacrifice fly off of Shellmyer’s bat, which scored Maeve Nelson. The Wildcats swept the series against the Badgers with a 4-3 win.
While UW didn’t get a win over the past weekend, they continued to bring energy and fight, a difficult feat to maintain when facing a tough team like Northwestern.
UW drops to 22-14 overall and 7-5 in the Big Ten Conference. The Badgers sit in fourth place as the conference season has reached its halfway point.
Next up is their rivals, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. UW welcomes Minnesota to a mid-week doubleheader at Goodman Diamond Wednesday, April 19, at 3:00 p.m. with game two afterward.