Softball: Badgers push win streak to seven with sweep of Green Bay

Senior third baseman Michelle Mueller, recently named USA Softball Player of the Week, has 10 home runs this season.

Senior third baseman Michelle Mueller, recently named USA Softball Player of the Week, has 10 home runs this season.

Image By: Wil Gibb and Wil Gibb

There is something about playing at Goodman Diamond that just seems right for the Wisconsin softball team.

The Badgers extended their season-best winning streak to seven games Wednesday, sweeping Green Bay in a doubleheader to complete a perfect weeklong home stand.

Wisconsin (6-5 Big Ten, 24-15 overall) beat Green Bay 9-8 and 5-2 to extend its streak and continue its dominance at home.

The first game proved to be the tougher test for Wisconsin. UW found itself down 8-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning after the Phoenix (3-2 Horizon League, 16-9) roughed up senior pitcher Cassandra Darrah and held Wisconsin’s offense in check. The Badgers put together a rally in their final at bat, capped off by a scorching line drive past the Phoenix first baseman courtesy of senior leftfielder Mary Massei, which drove in the game-winning run.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, senior third baseman Michelle Mueller started things off with a walk. Senior shortstop Stephanie Peace then smacked a double off the left-field wall, and an ensuing single by freshman catcher Chloe Miller drove in both runners, pulling the score to 8-6.

After junior outfielder Marissa Mersch singled, sophomore first baseman Ashley Van Zeeland laid down a sacrifice bunt, scoring Peace while advancing Mersch to second. With the Badgers down just one run, sophomore second baseman Katie Christner hit a towering fly ball to left field that bounced off the fence, giving Christner a game-tying double.

Christner’s double set up Massei’s walk-off hit and secured the first game of the doubleheader for the Badgers.

“This is what I’m here for,” Massei said of her final at bat. “We work hard every single day and we lift each other up.”

Head coach Yvette Healy praised her team’s resilience despite heading into the final inning down four runs.

“We’ve had a couple comeback wins since we’ve been here, even this season,” Healy said. “I think they showed a lot of composure.”

After sophomore pitcher Taylor-Paige Stewart allowed a Green Bay run in the first inning of the second game and another in the fourth, Wisconsin’s offense stepped in to back her up.

Miller blasted a line drive leadoff home run to right center in the fourth inning to get the Badgers on the board.

Wisconsin picked up another run in the fifth inning when junior outfielder Maria Van Abel scored on an error, and Mueller added a home run of her own with two runners on base to put the Badgers up 5-2. It was all the support Stewart would need, notching seven strikeouts over seven innings to improve her record to 10-5.

Mueller, who has gone on a tear during Wisconsin’s winning streak, was named the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National Player of the Week and the USA Softball National Player of the Week last week.

“I’m just really comfortable,” Mueller said. “I’ve been working on a lot of mental stuff, breathing, just getting into a focus point.”

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