Softball: UW sweeps Purdue, wins 13th straight

Senior pitcher Cassandra Darrah provided four and one-third innings of strong relief Saturday.

Senior pitcher Cassandra Darrah provided four and one-third innings of strong relief Saturday.

Image By: Taylor Galaszewski and Taylor Galaszewski

There were plenty of reasons to celebrate at Goodman Diamond Saturday.

Wisconsin defeated Purdue, 7-3, to complete a sweep over the Boilermakers on Senior Day in front of 1,371 fans, the second-highest attendance in school history.

The win was the Badgers’ 13th in a row, which tied the record set last season for UW’s longest win streak.

“For this group, they wanted to show that in front of a lot of fans that we can play well, which will be so important down the stretch,” said head coach Yvette Healy.

The Badgers (12-5 Big Ten, 30-15 overall) treated fans to a third-inning rally that put them ahead for good. After junior second baseman Megan Tancill led off with a triple and then scored on senior left fielder Mary Massei’s RBI single, senior first baseman Stephanie Peace clubbed a three-run home run that sailed well beyond the left field fence at Goodman Diamond.

“I just came up and I was looking for a pitch to drive hard and happened to get one that I ran into,” Peace said of the towering home run.

Purdue (12-8, 25-25-1) managed just one more run the rest of the game against senior pitcher Cassandra Darrah, who relieved sophomore starter Taylor-Paige Stewart after she gave up two runs in two and two-thirds innings of work.

“It’s phenomenal,” Healy said of the depth of Wisconsin’s pitching. “To see the two of them work together like that, I think they just threw great games all weekend.”

Stewart had her most impressive performance in game one of the series on Friday in a 2-1 pitcher’s duel against Purdue sophomore Lilly Fecho. She allowed just three hits and one earned run over seven innings of work while pitching in a role that she was not used to. Healy elected to have Stewart throw in game one of the doubleheader, a position that has been reserved for Darrah for most of the season.

“If you’re pitching the first game, you get to be super amped all day,” Stewart said. “At the end of the day, you’re still just getting excited for whatever game you’re throwing.”

Healy said Stewart will most likely pitch in the first games of the series against Nebraska and Michigan next week as well.

Senior third baseman Michelle Mueller provided all the offense the Badgers would need. She hit a double to right center in the first inning that drove in junior outfielder Maria Van Abel and then added an opposite-field solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Mueller moved her RBI total on the season to 49, which tied UW’s all-time single-season record.

In the second game of the Friday doubleheader, Wisconsin jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning by way of a two-run home run from freshman catcher Chloe Miller and a Purdue throwing error that allowed Peace to score after she stole third base.

Purdue slowly chipped away at Darrah, scoring a run in the second and third innings. In the fifth, the Boilermakers took a 5-4 lead on a three-run home run by senior catcher Danielle Fletcher.

Wisconsin wrestled back the lead in the bottom of the inning when Peace scored on another throwing error and Massei hit an RBI single that scored sophomore right fielder Katie Christner. The Badgers went on to win, 6-5.

Wisconsin’s 13th straight win moved it to fourth place in the Big Ten standings. The Badgers have an opportunity to climb the standings even further, as their final week of the regular season will conclude with series against second-place Nebraska and first-place Michigan.

“Those are great teams, and we’re just going to see if we can cause a little havoc against them in the next couple series,” Healy said of Wisconsin’s upcoming schedule.

Peace recognizes that the Badgers face an uphill battle if they want to keep the streak alive.

“We definitely won’t take them lightly,” Peace said. “We know that we’re going to have to play our best softball coming into the home stretch.”

Seniors Darrah, Massei, Mueller and Peace were all honored Saturday before the second annual Get To Goodman game.

“I think it’s really awesome that we had a chance to have Get To Goodman on Senior Day,” Massei said. “It’s nice to win in front of all of our fans.”

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