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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, June 30, 2022
IU vs. UW Softball collision
Brooke Benson collides with Christaana Angelopulos at home plate

Wisconsin Softball defeats Indiana 2-1 in first home series

Wisconsin came back to Goodman Diamond last weekend with fans in the stadium for the first time since 2019. The atmosphere helped carry the team to a thrilling series win, including some Game 3 drama.

Wisconsin headed into the series with an eight-game winning streak after sweeping Iowa in Iowa City. Maddie Schwartz, Wisconsin’s ace pitcher, entered Game 1 with a 13-2 record and a 2.05 ERA. She battled Indiana’s Heather Johnson, who had a 5-2 record and 4.55 ERA. 

The Badger bats were hot, as Wisconsin entered the game with seven players batting over .400. That said, Indiana’s offense struck first, scoring three first-inning runs off four hits and one Wisconsin fielding error. 

Indiana’a Cora Bassett led off the first inning with a single to right that turned into an inside-the-park home run due to a fielding error by right fielder Molly Schlosser. Grace Lorsung and Brittany Ford continued the inning for the Hoosiers with singles to the outfield. Taylor Minnick then drove them both in with a double to left-center.

In the bottom of the first, Wisconsin got their first two batters on base thanks to a pair of Indiana errors. Fiona Girardot stepped up and singled to right, but lead runner Alyssa McClelland was gunned down at home by a beautiful Sarah Stone throw. 

The Badgers were able to get one, as Bannon scored when Skylar Sirdashney reached on a fielder’s choice. Sirdashney was caught stealing third to end the inning. After one, Indiana led 3-1.

Schwartz settled in and logged consecutive 1-2-3 innings, giving Wisconsin’s offense the opportunity to strike back.

Brooke Kuffel led off the bottom of the third with a bomb to center. Peyton Bannon followed with a triple to center field and then crossed home plate on a Girardot single. The game was tied 3-3 until the bottom of the fifth when Girardot struck again, hitting a two-run shot to left-center.

Schwartz got into a bit of trouble in the sixth, yielding four hits and a run to make the score 5-4. Wisconsin pulled ahead, 7-4, in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff double by Taylor Miklesh, an Ellie Hubbard single, a Kayla Konwent walk and, finally, a two-run double to left center by Bannon. 

Indiana’s Brianna Copeland hit a solo home run with two outs in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough and Wisconsin held on for a 7-5 win. 

Schwartz threw a 109-pitch complete game with one walk, five strikeouts and four earned runs. Indiana’s Johnson got through five innings, recording three strikeouts and no walks with five earned runs. 

After a 30-minute break, the teams were back on the field for Game 2. Due to snow in Saturday’s forecast, the game had been rescheduled for a Friday doubleheader.

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The rubber-armed Schwartz started Friday’s second game as well. Indiana, meanwhile, threw Macy Montgomery, who entered the game with a record of 7-2 and a 1.11 ERA.

In the bottom of the first inning, Wisconsin’s Konwent hit her 28th home run of the season. Then, with Molly Schlosser’s walk and a single by Miklesh, they put another run on the board.

Action picked back up in the top of the third when Indiana’s Brooke Benson hit a home run of her own. With three additional hits and three more runs, Indiana grabbed a 4-2 lead. Schwartz lasted only 2.2 innings, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk while punching out three. Her fatigue was beginning to show after throwing 159 pitches in the span of a few hours, so Tessa Magnanimo entered in relief for Wisconsin and got out of the inning.

The Hoosiers continued to apply pressure in the fifth, taking a 7-2 lead on two singles and Taylor Minnick’s three-run home run. Magnanimo was pulled after allowing three runs in 1.1 innings. Ava Justman stepped in and pitched well, turning in three scoreless frames despite allowing four hits and two walks while hitting a pair of batters.   

Wisconsin loaded the bases in the fifth and sixth but came away with only two runs, both of which were attributable to Indiana errors. Trailing 7-4 in the bottom of the seventh, the Badgers went quietly and lost the nightcap of the doubleheader.

Montgomery earned the win for Indiana with an effective, yet inefficient performance—she walked seven batters and hit two in the 139-pitch outing. The Badgers failed to take advantage of Montgomery’s wildness, as they left 13 runners on base in a very winnable game. 

Sunday afternoon’s rubber match started off slowly, with Schwartz and Montgomery their usual, shutdown selves early. Through two scoreless frames, a Taylor Miklesh double was the only hit for either team.

Indiana’s Aaliyah Andrews led off the third with a single before stealing three bases, including home, and giving the Hoosiers a 1-0 lead.

Shortly after, Indiana had runners on the corners with nobody out. The Hoosiers attempted a double steal to score Benson. As Badger catcher Christaana Angelopulos received the throw back from second, Benson barreled into her and was called out. Angelopulos was clearly shaken but got up after a minute. Benson, meanwhile, was ejected, as was Indiana coach Shonda Stanton for her extended argument with the umpire.

Angelopulos stayed in the game and tied it with a solo home run — her first of the season — in the third inning. It was an impressive moment considering the circumstances, and her teammates and the crowd went wild.

Wisconsin’s backstop wasn’t done, though. Angelopulos gave the Badgers a 4-1 lead with a two-out, three-run shot in the sixth inning. Kayla Konwent then added her second home run of the series, this one a two-run blast. The five-run inning put Wisconsin ahead 6-1 before the final frame. 

Schwartz secured the 6-2 win and the series victory with her second complete game of the weekend and her eighth of the season. The seven-hit, two-run outing improved her ERA to 2.41, which ranks ninth in the Big Ten. Schwartz’s 15 wins lead the conference, and her ability to eat innings has been instrumental to Wisconsin’s success. 

After the game, Angelopulos spoke about her teammates’ support. 

“It really meant everything. I just really appreciated my teammates sticking with me, my coaches sticking with me — I got them and they got me,” she said. “It’s just super cool to have that spark and going into the rest of the game it was awesome.”

“She was a spark. She dug deep,” added Badger Head Coach Yvette Healy. “She took a big hit earlier in the game and she stayed in it. To put the ball over the fence twice today, that was pretty cool.”

After this home series, Wisconsin is now 5-1 in the Big Ten and 20-8 overall. They are tied for second in the conference alongside Maryland and Northwestern, and they’ve gone 9-1 in their last 10 games. 

Wisconsin heads to Illinois for another three-game conference series this weekend. Game 1 begins at 5 p.m.

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