Nebraska (3-3 Big Ten, 11-20 overall) spoiled the Badgers' first weekend in Madison, sweeping No. 21 Wisconsin (2-4, 23-6) right out of their own stadium Sunday.
The Cornhuskers completed the three-game sweep with a 9-4 victory over the Badgers at Goodman Diamond.
Early on, Nebraska pitcher Sydney McLeod struggled to find the strike zone. After a leadoff walk by junior infielder Kelsey Jenkins, junior shortstop Brooke Wyderski roped a double that bounced once before striking the center field fence, scoring Jenkins and giving UW an early lead.
But, the Cornhuskers struck back quickly in the second inning. A hard-hit double from Kaylan Jablonski forced freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Menz into early trouble. The next batter, Alexis Perry, smoked a ball to center field, while UW sophomore center fielder Kelly Welsh took an efficient route to the ball but could not make the catch.
A series of throwing errors, one by freshman right-fielder Jordan Little that allowed two runners to score, gave the Badgers a 4-1 deficit at the start of the bottom of the second inning.
Wisconsin was held scoreless until the fourth inning, but Nebraska had already tacked on three additional runs before the Badgers' bats awoke again.
In the fourth inning, Wyderski came through with a clutch single and brought home another Badger run. Third baseman Sara Novak continued the rally, stroking a hard hit ball up the middle, cutting the Cornhuskers’ lead to 7-4. Wisconsin grabbed the momentum after the rally, giving the Goodman crowd new life.
However, this momentum was short-lived. Nebraska loaded the bases after a run-scoring double off junior pitcher Mariah Watts, giving them an 8-4 lead in the fifth. Menz then re-entered the game for Watts, but walked in another run, giving the Huskers a 9-4 lead, which they wouldn’t relinquish.
Despite surrendering 11 hits to the Cornhuskers, there were some positives to take away from UW’s disappointing weekend.
Watts made her Goodman debut, pitching for the first time since the Badgers’ February matchup against Rutgers.
“Even seeing Mariah Watts come in and put a zero up on the board, that was a real nice silver lining right there,” head coach Yvette Healy said.
Complementing Watts, Wyderski extended her hit streak to four games.
The next Big Ten matchup for Wisconsin kicks off Friday against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Goodman Diamond.
If Wisconsin can limit its defensive struggles and regain the offensive swagger it had during non-conference play, perhaps the Badgers can bring their own brooms to the upcoming series.