The Wisconsin softball team (11-4 Big Ten, 29-13 overall) snuck away from Goodman Diamond Wednesday with a sweep over Indiana State (5-14 Missouri Valley, 18-29 overall).
While the Badgers had no trouble in the first game, winning 8-0 in five innings thanks to sophomore first baseman Michelle Mueller’s walk-off three-run home run, Wisconsin ran into trouble in the second game after giving up seven runs over the fifth and sixth innings. The Badgers fought off the rally and eventually came out on top 9-7 in the nightcap.
“They didn’t fold, and that’s important,” UW head coach Yvette Healy said. “I think adversity is a key thing and I really just think it shows how special it is what we’ve been able to do as a program so far.
“If you let off for even a minute you can just see that every team has a chance to come back and I’m really proud that (we) responded well.”
Junior pitcher Meghan McIntosh started in the second game after striking out the side in the last inning of the first game. She pitched four scoreless innings while Wisconsin built an 8-0 lead, but was substituted by sophomore Amanda Najdek.
Najdek struggled, giving up five earned runs while getting just two outs in the fifth inning. Healy put McIntosh back in and got out of the jam, but allowed a two-run home run to Alyssa Heller in the sixth.
“Just really working with my off-speed and hitting locations in and out,” McIntosh said of her success in each game. “I worked my screwball to the righties and curve to the lefties to stretch the zone.”
The pair of wins marks the 10th straight home win for the Badgers and sixth overall. Since April 3, the Badgers are 15-1 and have propelled themselves into second in the Big Ten standings. They sit behind Michigan, which owns a 12-3 mark in conference games.
“It’s nice to see them swing the bats,” Healy said. “We had a nice offensive day and to put the ball over the fence and set the tone offensively was big and we really needed to score runs.”
Sophomore third baseman Shannel Blackshear also went long Wednesday. She took a 1-0 offering from Sycamore starter Ashli Scott deep over the left-field fence.
Mueller’s long ball was hit to dead center, and if not for a bit of help from a teammate, she probably would not have ended the game early.
“I was excited because I was having a hard time timing the pitcher,” she said. “I was just glad one of my teammates told me earlier that I was a little early and she told me to try to fix it and stay back… it really helped.”
The dinger was just Mueller’s second home run of the season, which is hard to believe considering her frame and her consistency with hitting the ball solidly. Healy, though, thinks the best is yet to come.
“She’s a kid that has a lot of power but hasn’t necessarily shown it the last two years,” she said. “She’s shown it a little bit and she’s just starting to break out. It’s a big part of our game and I think in the future she’s going to be a scary hitter.”
The home run was her lone hit of the day, but she finished with five RBI.
Also leading the Badgers offensively Wednesday was freshman centerfielder Maria Van Abel, who finished a perfect 4-for-4 with a pair of runs. Junior outfielder Kendall Grimm also finished with five RBI and went 2-for-7 on the day.