Offensive fireworks were the theme of the weekend for Wisconsin Softball, as the Badgers outscored their opponents 35-7 on the way to a 3-0 record in the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic.
After a successful outing in the Sheraton Invitational last weekend, where the Badgers saw their offense start to pick up, the team’s output at the plate skyrocketed in their three games this weekend.
However, Wisconsin’s final two games of the tournament were canceled due to weather, ending what could have been a perfect 5-0 weekend for the team. The Badgers were led by junior infielder Kelsey Jenkins, who reached base a team-high nine times in the tournament, and sophomore infielder Stephanie Lombardo, who hit two homers and knocked in six runs.
Wisconsin (15-2) opened the weekend against their toughest opponent of the three, Louisiana-Monroe (12-7). The Warhawks struck first in the second inning with two runs off freshman Kaitlyn Menz, but were kept in check by the Badgers’ ace the rest of the game.
Menz went the distance for the seventh time this season, allowing seven hits and striking out a career high eight batters. Lombardo got the scoring started for Wisconsin in the second inning with a solo shot to right-center.
The Badgers did not score again until the bottom of the sixth, but made sure to put the game to rest in that inning. Senior Sara Novak scored on an error to tie the game at two a piece, and Jenkins followed with a two RBI single to left that made the score 5-2.
Menz put the Warhawks away in the top of the seventh, wrapping up the win for the Badgers and improving her record to 8-2.
In its second game of the day against local Sam Houston State (8-11), Wisconsin’s offense came to life. Lombardo struck first in the second inning for the Badgers once again, with another solo home run to right-center. That same inning, sophomore Kelly Welsh brought in a run on a fielder’s choice sacrifice bunt, and then scored herself when Jenkins hit a single up the middle, one of her four hits on the day.
Lombardo stayed hot, bringing in two more runs to bring her RBI total to four for the game. Wisconsin’s most successful inning was the sixth, in which they scored five runs to make the final score 14-3. Senior starter Kirsten Stevens allowed no runs on the way to her fifth win of the year.
The final game of the weekend was a Wisconsin blowout over Princeton (1-3). The Badgers put eight runs on the board in the third inning alone, including a grand-slam from sophomore Melanie Cross that was followed by a solo shot off the bat of junior Samantha Arents.
Arents, who only had two hits coming into the contest, finished 3-3 with two runs and 2 RBI. Stevens pitched the entirety of the five inning game for her second win of the tournament.
Wisconsin took on Houston (9-11) the next day, but only made it to the fifth inning before the game was cancelled due to rain. At that point, the Badgers had a 2-0 lead thanks to a double by Jenkins that barely missed going over the wall.
Next weekend is another busy one for the Badgers, as they travel to Fort Collins, Colo. to play five games in the Colorado State Classic. Competition opens up Friday March 10 against Maine (1-4) at 1 p.m.