Timely hitting and a couple of good breaks put the University of Wisconsin softball team (2-1 Big Ten, 13-10 overall) on the winning side of a 2-1 split in this weekend’s Big Ten opening series against Iowa (1-2, 11-17).
Twenty complete innings from sophomore pitcher Cassandra Darrah and tough defense contributed to three games that were all decided by one run.
The Badgers’ opened Big Ten play with a 1-0 win over the Hawkeyes in the opening game of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon. Sophomore outfielder Mary Massei came through with the game’s only RBI in the third inning on a double that scored junior outfielder Kendall Grimm.
Darrah and the Badgers’ defense were able to hold the Hawkeyes to only three hits and zero walks in the series opener, turning Wisconsin’s one run into a 1-0 win.
Darrah would come back to pitch again in the nightcap, where Wisconsin managed to strike first again in the third inning with a run. However, Iowa was able to counter in the bottom of the inning. The game remained tied until a wild pitch allowed Grimm to score in the sixth inning putting the Badgers back up 2-1.
Wisconsin was able to tack on another run in the sixth before Iowa was able to rally in the bottom of the inning. An error and a misplay by the Badgers allowed the Hawkeyes to tie the score up at three-a-piece.
Iowa loaded the bases one last time in the inning and score the eventual winning run when Hawkeye senior catcher Liz Watkins was hit by a pitch.
The 4-3 loss went to Darrah, who allowed four runs off seven hits. Iowa pitcher Kayla Massey picked up the win, holding Wisconsin to three runs off five hits.
Tough defense was once again the deciding factor in the Badgers’ 5-4 win over the Hawkeyes Sunday.
Wisconsin capitalized in the second inning on a bunt by freshman outfielder Maria Van Abel and a single by junior third baseman Shannel Blackshear to strike first once again, leaving the score at 2-0 after two innings.
A sacrifice fly from junior infielder Whitney Massey and a single down the right field line in the fifth inning meant two RBI’s and drove in two more runs for the Badgers, putting them up 4-0 with two innings left to play.
A three-run home run by Iowa senior infielder Katie Kelm in the bottom of the sixth inning brought the Hawkeyes within one.
An error by Iowa outfieder Johnnie Dowling allowed the Badgers to regain a two-run lead in the top of the seventh inning.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, an infield single brought the Hawkeyes within one run once again, before Durrah forced a ground out to end the game.
With the win Durrah improves to 9-5 on the season, allowing four runs on ten hits, while Wisconsin stranded six base runners to Iowa’s eight.
The Badgers play their home opener at Goodman Diamond next Sat., March 31 in a doubleheader against Northwestern at noon. Game three will be played the next day, April 1 at two o’clock, with coverage on the Big Ten Network.