Sports

Badgers power through USF Tournament, emerge victorious

Image By: Jessi Schoville and Jessi Schoville

This past weekend, Wisconsin softball (14-10 overall) traveled to Tampa, Florida for the USF Tournament, their final pre-season tournament, and played five games over three days.

The Badgers played their first game of the tournament on Friday against Massachusetts, who was 3-3 at the time. The game started on a high note with a lead-off home run from Kayla Konwent, her seventh of the season. 

It wasn’t until the sixth inning, however, where the Badgers offense really found its groove. Stephanie Lombardo hit a home run that brought in two runs, followed by three more runs scored off of a double and error.

With one more solo home run from Caroline Hedgcock, the Badgers won the game 8-1. 

Immediately following their victory, Wisconsin faced the Iowa State Cyclones. Although the Badgers held the lead for a majority of the game, the Cyclones kept a close score.

After allowing a run in the top of the first, junior catcher Taylor Johnson hit a three-run home run that would allow Wisconsin to gain the lead. Another homer from Kayla Konwent and a run from Fiona Girardot would bring the score to 5-1 at the end of the second inning. 

But, then the Cyclones began to make their comeback, as they scored runs in the third, fourth, and fifth inning, tying the game at five. Wisconsin senior second baseman Jordan Little, however, had a response for them with a solo home run in the bottom of the inning, allowing the Badgers to regain the lead.

The teams both scored one run in the following inning and a half, but with the Cyclones unable to score in the seventh inning, the Badgers eventually won 7-6.

Saturday morning began with a game against the home team, South Florida. And, after a strong defensive performance from both teams, the game moved into extra innings. 

Although the Badgers were able to take the lead with one run in the top of the seventh inning, the Bulls responded with two runs, surpassing the Badgers for a 2-1 win.

Following the tough loss, the Badgers bounced back in a close 4-3 matchup against Iowa State. 

Stephanie Lombardo stepped up with confidence and hit a solo shot leadoff home run in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game 2-2. It’s her first home run of the season, and it came in a pivotal time. 

The badgers came out victorious and advanced to the final game of the tournament to have a chance to win the USF tournament. 

On Sunday, the Badgers came to play and showed what a defensive and offensive powerhouse this team is and will be during Big Ten play. 

Battling against the University of Massachusetts, the Badgers had a program record five home runs in a single game. The bats were hot right out the gate two home runs in the first inning from Kayla Konwent (3rd home run this weekend, 7th total) and Taylor Johnson (2nd home run this weekend, 3rd total)

Caroline Hedgecock started the bottom of the third with an impressive solo shot herself. The badgers had a 7-0 lead at that point, and were looking extremely comfortable at the plate. 

Fiona Girardot — a name that seems to keep appearing throughout this spring — hit a massive two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth which gave the badgers a 9-0 run-rule win. 

The badger defensive effort can not be ignored during this game either. The teams’ pitching appeared to be at full strength and showed the versatility and confidence in must-win games. 

It is a great accomplishment to win the USF tournament, but the Badgers are hungry for more. March 18 marks the first Big Ten game at Villanova, and every player is looking to continue this momentum and have another successful season.

These past tournaments have truly shown that this Badger team is not to be underestimated or second-guessed. With players like Konwent who tallied seven home runs, 14 RBIs and a batting average of .406, and Lombardi with four homers, nine RBIs and a batting average of .311, the badgers offensive will be hard to stop. Every pitcher is only allowing batting averages around .200 as well, so the Badgers pose a problem at every position for opposing teams.

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