Led by senior shortstop Brooke Wyderski’s red-hot bat, Wisconsin (11-8) took care of business over the weekend at the Under Armour Invitational in Clearwater, Fla. The Badgers finished the tournament with a record of 4-1, finishing off their last two opponents with a combined score of 19-0.
Wyderski has been Wisconsin’s most complete offensive player this year, building on her strong junior season in 2017. Her impact was felt right away in Clearwater with a two-hit, one run game against Central Michigan (6-7) Friday afternoon. The Badgers grabbed an early lead in the third when a passed ball and single from junior first baseman Stephanie Lombardo made it 3-0 UW. Wisconsin never trailed and tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning. Freshman Haley Hestekin threw seven strong innings from the circle, allowing five hits and just one earned run on the way to her third win of the season.
Game two came later Friday night and would be Wisconsin’s only disappointment of the tournament. The Badgers never got their bats going against South Florida (11-12), the tournament’s hosts, losing 3-1. Sophomore ace Kaitlyn Menz allowed one earned run on seven hits in six solid innings of work, but the Badgers’ defense committed three costly errors. Wisconsin’s only run would come in the fourth inning from a solo homerun off the bat of Wyderski.
Game three of the invitational saw the Badgers jump out to an early 7-0 lead in the second inning. College of Charleston (10-7) came all the way back in the fourth inning to tie the game at seven, in part due to another costly error by Wisconsin’s defense. Menz didn’t have her best outing of the season but still earned the win and brought her record to 6-3 on the year. Junior catcher Melanie Cross had a career day, going 3-4 with two key RBI knocks late in the game to help put the Badgers ahead for good.
After the hectic win Saturday morning, Wisconsin settled down and took care of business in the final two games of the tournament, defeating Western Michigan (6-10) 7-0 and Wright State (3-9) 12-0. The Badgers continued to hit and pitch well in their final two games, while the defense still lagged a bit. Wisconsin committed three more errors against WMU, but none occurred with runners on base. They had no errors against Wright State, run-ruling the Raiders in five innings. Wyderski paced the offense again, with a double in each game. Fellow senior middle infielder Kelsey Jenkins, who had struggled early in the tournament, led the Badgers in the final game of the weekend with two hits and five RBI.
Next up for Wisconsin is the Wildcat Invitational in Tuscon, Ariz. The Badgers will play five games over the weekend, including two against No. 9 University of Arizona (15-2). First pitch is at 11 a.m. Friday against USC-Upstate (18-0).