Softball: Badgers post two doubleheader victories over Illinois teams

The Wisconsin softball team took the field against Illinois State Saturday in a pair of fall exhibition games, winning 3-0 and 3-2.

“Playing well in the fall definitely helps get you prepared for the spring,” said senior pitcher Cassandra Darrah, who took the mound in the first game of the double header.

Darrah got a couple quick outs in the first, but had trouble with control, hitting a batter and walking two more. She worked her way out of the bases-loaded jam by striking out Redbird second baseman Kolby Hoffman.

After the first, Darrah was lights out, walking just one more and allowing only one hit in a six-inning shutout.

Freshman Sara Novak came on in the seventh and struck out the side.

The Badgers offense kicked game one off in the third when freshman catcher Chloe Miller hit an RBI double.

Later in the inning, sophomore infielder Stefanni LaJeunesse was hit by a pitch, which drove in senior infielder Stephanie Peace. The Badgers scored again in the fifth inning on a hit by Taylor Stewart.

Peace finished the day going 1-4 with a walk, a steal, a sacrifice fly, two runs scored, and three RBI.

“I think our team is a little out of the ordinary in the way we produce runs,” Peace said. “We just try to put the ball in play hard and put pressure on the defense.”

The second game started off shaky for Badger pitchers as well when Taylor Stewart let up two runs in the first.

As with Darrah, Stewart steadied herself, striking out nine in her final five innings.

The Badgers got on the board with a run off Pearce’s sacrifice fly in the third. The inning had already seen a successful bunt and a double steal.

The Badgers ultimately took the lead in the fifth when Pearce hit a two run triple.

“We always try to compliment our power with some speed,” head coach Yvette Healy said. “The more we get on, the more we make our big hitters look good,”

In action against Northern Illinois on Sunday, the Badgers let up five runs in the top of the seventh, but held on to win game one 9-5.

In game two, they took a quick lead in the first inning and didn’t look back, winning 8-3.

After one of the best records in school history and an appearance in the NCAA tournament last year, the Badgers have big shoes to fill this season.

Healy knows the hurdles her team must face, but remains confident.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, some amazing seniors to replace,” Healy said. “We’re just testing out a lot of new freshmen and sophomores to see who can fill in some of those gaps, but we’re happy where we’re at right now.”

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