Wisconsin (2-2 Big Ten, 16-13 overall) struggled against No. 24 Ohio State (2-4, 21-8) in its first conference series of the year, dropping two games of three against the Buckeyes in Columbus. Sophomore Kaitlyn Menz, who was second team All-Big Ten last season, couldn’t stop the Buckeyes’ hot bats in either of her starts, losing the opening and closing games of the weekend. Along with being outhit, the Badgers were outplayed in the field. Wisconsin committed seven errors compared to Ohio State’s three, with five of those errors resulting in runs for the Buckeyes.
Game one on Friday night began well for Wisconsin, with the Badgers producing four runs in the first two innings. Junior Stefanie Lombardo, making her first appearance since an injury in early March, drove in the first run with a single up the middle that scored freshman Taylor Johnson. Ohio State answered back with two runs in the bottom of the inning, but Wisconsin scored three in the top of the second and didn’t surrender the lead again until the sixth.
After adding insurance runs in the fourth and sixth inning, the Badgers led 7-4 with just six outs remaining for the Buckeyes. Ohio State loaded the bases and scored twice before their first out to make it a 7-6 game. A home run later in the inning pushed the score to 9-7 in favor of Ohio State, the final score of the game.
The second contest of the series was the Badgers’ best performance and only win of the weekend. Wisconsin outhit Ohio State eight-to-six, committed the same amount of errors as the Buckeyes, and never trailed in the 3-1 victory. Senior Brooke Wyderski and Johnson hit back-to-back homers in the third to give Wisconsin the early lead. The Badgers’ third and final run came in the seventh on an Ohio State error. Freshman Haley Hestekin improved her record to 8-4 on the year, striking out five while walking none in seven innings of work. This was Wisconsin’s first win in Columbus since 2004.
The series’ rubber match ended up a blowout, as Wisconsin never found a rhythm on offense and committed untimely errors in the field. The game was in reach until the fifth inning when Hestekin, in relief of Menz, gave up a grand slam. Johnson, senior second baseman Kelsey Jenkins and junior catcher Melanie Cross managed the only three hits of the day for the Badgers in the 7-0 loss.
The Badgers take on University of Iowa (1-4, 15-17) in Iowa City next weekend before returning home on the 11th. Wisconsin won two of three against the Hawkeyes last season at Goodman Diamond.