In the past, most Wisconsin softball teams would have been unable to surmount a large lead in the closing innings of a game. However, this year’s Badgers (6-3 Big Ten, 20-12 overall) are carrying a different attitude and swagger under second year head coach Yvette Healy.
That never-quit attitude instilled by Healy has the Badgers off to one of the best starts in program history, and combining that new attitude with timely hitting by several Badgers sparked the largest comeback win in program history with an 11-10 win over border rival Minnesota in the tail-end of a double header Saturday.
The epic comeback victory over the Gophers, coupled with Friday’s 3-0 win and a 5-1 triumph in the first leg of Saturday’s double header, gave Wisconsin its first sweep over a Big Ten opponent this season and put the Badgers in fourth place in the conference and only two games back of first place Michigan.
The weekend began with a strong pitching performance from sophomore right-hander Cassandra Darrah Friday. The Corydon, Iowa native pitched seven shutout innings and recorded seven strikeouts to earn the win, giving her a 12-6 record on the year. The shutout was Darrah’s sixth of the season, establishing her as one of the top pitchers in the Big Ten.
The Badgers were able to generate enough offense with three runs, the first of which came off an error by the Gophers, allowing sophomore infielder Stephanie Peace to score. Run-scoring hits in the third and fourth innings by junior infielder Whitney Massey and senior first baseman Karla Powell put the Badgers up 3-0.
The three runs would prove to be enough as the Badgers used strong pitching and solid defense to close out Minnesota.
The Badgers were able to win in similar fashion to start the day Saturday, posting a 5-1 victory in the second game of the series.
Another strong pitching performance from Darrah improved her record to 13-6, as she again pitched a complete game. Over seven innings the sophomore gave up only one run while racking up five strikeouts.
Offensively, a four-run third inning by the Badgers was enough to secure the win and the series over Minnesota. Junior catcher Maggie Strange was able to score off a throwing error by Minnesota’s second baseman to begin the scoring in the third. A two RBI double by Peace capped the inning’s scoring for the Badgers and put them up 4-0. The win put the Badgers on a five-game winning streak.
The last game of the series proved to be a wild one as a crazy 11-10 comeback win by Wisconsin secured a sweep of Minnesota.
Entering the bottom of the fourth inning, the Badgers trailed 10-2, but scored nine unanswered runs to cap the largest comeback in school history.
Sophomore pitcher Amanda Najdek started the game for Wisconsin but didn’t last long as she was pulled in the first after allowing four Gopher runs. Junior lefty Meghan McIntosh pitched the rest of the game and earned the win despite giving up six earned runs.
On offensive the Badgers were able to come back on the bats of Peace and sophomore outfielder Mary Massei, who went 3-for-5 with four RBIs for the Badgers. A 4-for-4 performance by Peace paced the Badger offense.
UWBadgers.com contributed to this report.