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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

Softball drops home opener

After a sweep over conference opponent Indiana (14-20 overall, 0-8 Big Ten) last weekend, the UW softball team had hoped for continued success this weekend in its first homestand of the year. However, Wisconsin's efforts fell short as they were victimized by both Michigan and Michigan State over the weekend. 




The Badgers (13-20, 2-8) opened at the Goodman Softball Complex Friday by hosting the No. 13 Michigan Wolverines (23-8, 5-1) led by all-American Marissa Young. 




Young, Michigan's senior pitcher, showed her dominance from the beginning by striking out the heart of the Badger order in the bottom of the first. Young never let up and allowed only one hit-a single to center off the bat of senior rightfielder Mandy Liles in the sixth inning. 




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Young's power extended beyond the mound and into the batter's box as well. In the top of the second, Young blasted senior pitcher Andrea Kirchberg's pitch over the centerfield wall for her seventh home run of the year. That one run proved to be all the scoring the Wolverines would need as they defeated the Badgers 3-0. 




Saturday was more of the same for both teams. Young and senior leftfielder Melinda Moulden provided the offense for Michigan as they both hit solo homers off Kirchberg in the third inning. 




\Marissa Young steps up every day for that team,"" head coach Karen Gallagher said. ""That's why she's a great player and that's why she's an all-American."" 




Wisconsin was able to scratch out one run against sophomore pitcher Nicole Motycka in the fourth on an RBI single coming from senior leftfielder Erin Barnharst, but could not mount a comeback against the pitching tandem of Motycka and Young, who came on in the sixth inning as Michigan went on to win 2-1. 




For Wisconsin, the losses came down to a lack of timely hitting and a pitcher who admittedly did not have her best game. 




""We continue to struggle at the plate when we've had some opportunities early."" Gallagher said. 




""[The hitting] is coming along,"" Barnharst said. ""Just not at the right times."" 




On the mound, the Badgers did not see the domination that they have become so accustomed to.  




""I just didn't pitch very well at all,"" Kirchberg said. 




""Andrea's a better pitcher than what she's been throwing the last few days,"" Gallagher said. ""But her average performances are better than most pitchers' across the country."" 




Badger softball tried to forget about Friday and Saturday against Michigan as they went to sunny Goodman Field to battle the Michigan State Spartans (26 -11, 6-3 Big Ten) in a doubleheader Sunday.  




The first game gave Kirchberg (11-14) a chance to get the first home win of the season against Michigan State's junior pitcher Jessica Beech (18-4). Unfortunately for Kirchberg and the Badgers, the Spartan ace was in control of the hitters all day. The Badgers continued their struggles with the bats getting only two hits in Beech's complete game 4-0 shutout.  




The UW hitters were not the only ones upset with their weekend performances. 




""It sucked,"" Kirchberg said about her weekend. ""I didn't pitch well at all."" 




The second game in the doubleheader showed a matchup between Wisconsin's sophomore pitcher Katie Layne (2-5) and Beech. The Wisconsin hitters showed improvement against the Spartan pitcher, getting seven hits off her in another seven innings. 




The Badgers were able to get their only lead of the weekend in the in second inning when Barnharst knocked her first of three hits in the hole vacated between the Spartan third baseman and short stop, allowing freshman second baseman Emily Friedman score. Although there seemed to be a spark in the hitting, that would be the only run for the team, stranding eight runners in game two, including an opportunity with bases loaded and only one out. 




Beech would only help herself to the victory though in a third-inning rally. Layne pitched a perfect two and two-thirds innings retiring eight straight until the ninth hitter started a two-out rally. Beech, approaching the plate in a tie game in the third with two outs and her junior third baseman Brittney Green on the bases, the junior hit the full-count pitch over the left center field fence making it 3-1 Spartans. Wisconsin was unable to come back and dropped the second game 4-1. 




""We're not executing and that's the bottom line,"" Gallagher said.

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