The Wisconsin Badgers won two out of three against the 25th-ranked and Big Ten-leading Nebraska Cornhuskers this past weekend.
In another trio of games at the Goodman Diamond, Wisconsin took Saturday’s doubleheader with 3-2 and 5-2 wins before losing 6-4 on Sunday.
Nebraska entered the weekend with an 18-game winning streak and a 13-0 conference record. Wisconsin, meanwhile, was coming off a three-game sweep of Michigan State the weekend prior.
The series began Saturday afternoon due to a Friday postponement. Wisconsin’s Maddie Schwartz faced Nebraska’s Olivia Ferrell in a low-scoring contest.
Scoring opened in the top of the third inning. After a leadoff walk and a fielder’s choice, Billie Andrews drove in her sister Brooke with an RBI double, giving the Cornhuskers a 1-0 advantage.
The Badgers had the bases loaded with one down in the bottom of the third. They weren’t able to capitalize, though, as infield popouts by Fiona Girardot and Ally Miklesh ended the frame.
Wisconsin used small-ball to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Lauren Foster led off with a single and advanced on a wild pitch. Molly Schlosser singled, too, moving Foster over to third. Peyton Bannon and Christaana Angelopulos dropped down consecutive run-scoring bunts and reached safely themselves, but three straight outs capped the inning at two runs.
Schwartz gave up two hits and a walk in the sixth inning as Nebraska tied the game 2-2. The Badger ace struck out Ava Bredell with runners on first and second to keep things even.
Wisconsin entered the bottom of the seventh with the game tied, looking to end one of the longest winning streaks in Nebraska’s program history.
Kayla Konwent took ball four to lead off the inning. Morgan Kummer, pinch running for Konwent, stole second base then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Miklesh blooped a single over the third baseman’s head into left field, easily scoring Kummer for the walk-off run.
Impressively, Schwartz needed just 86 pitches to pitch a five-hit, two-run, one-strikeout complete game. She returned to the circle for Game 2, while Courtney Wallace started for Nebraska.
Wisconsin started the game hot with two first-inning hits—a Konwent double and a Miklesh single. They were unable to record any runs, though, as pinch-runner Eden Dempsey got thrown out at home and Lauren Foster struck out looking.
Skylar Sirdashney put the Badgers up 1-0 in the second inning with a single that scored Peyton Bannon. Wisconsin loaded the bases and was threatening for more before Girardot lined out to end the inning.
The Badgers tacked on three more runs in the third and extended their lead to 4-0. Foster singled and Molly Schlosser drove her in with a triple to right-center. Bannon scored Schlosser with a single then scored, herself, on Ellie Hubbard’s sacrifice fly. It was a great job of getting in scoring position by Bannon, who reached second on a wild pitch and stole third.
Nebraska was unable to do any damage against the dominant Schwartz through four innings. Aided by a Hubbard error, they did get on the board in the fifth with Peyton Glatter’s RBI double.
The Cornhuskers narrowed their deficit to 4-2 in the sixth inning with a pair of hits, but Wisconsin earned that run back in the bottom of the inning and led 5-2 entering the seventh.
Nebraska did not give up easily, leading off the final frame with a single and a double. However, the Huskers were unable to drive in the pair of runners and quickly ended the inning with a lineout and two groundouts.
Schwartz earned her second win of the day and 20th of 2022, becoming one of only five Badgers to win 20 games in a season. She threw 105 pitches while allowing seven hits and two runs (one earned) in Game 2. Schwartz hurled an incredible 191 total pitches on the day and yielded only three earned runs. The senior tallied just a pair of strikeouts, but pitching to contact proved effective against one of the nation’s most formidable lineups.
In Game 3 on Sunday, Ferrell was back in the circle for Nebraska against Wisconsin’s Tessa Magnanimo as the Badgers looked for the sweep.
Wisconsin loaded the bases in the first inning but, much like in Game 2, failed to produce any runs as Schlosser and Bannon struck out.
The Cornhuskers went up 1-0 in the second inning on two singles, a hit-by-pitch and a sacrifice fly.
Ferrell lost control in the third, hitting Girardot then walking three straight Badgers to put Wisconsin on the scoreboard with nobody out. Kaylin Kinney entered in relief and allowed one run on a sac fly before getting out of the jam with two strikeouts. Wisconsin led 2-1 after three, but the lead would’ve been bigger if not for Kinney’s clutch work.
The Badgers did not hold their one-run lead for long, as Nebraska began the fourth with a double, a single and a Glatter three-run home run to left-center. Ava Justman replaced Magnanimo and allowed another run on two hits, which gave Nebraska a 5-2 lead.
Nebraska tacked on another run to their 5-2 lead in the sixth inning when Schwartz entered the game and gave up one.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh, Wisconsin needed to score at least four runs and they fought back to almost claim the win.
Wisconsin needed four runs to tie it in the bottom of the seventh, and they almost fought back from the 6-2 deficit. A pair of two-out infield errors by Nebraska opened the door for two Badger singles and a walk—Wisconsin now trailed by just two and had the bases loaded. Angelopulos grounded into a fielder’s choice to end it, though, and Nebraska had taken the final game of the series.
Kinney was masterful in relief, allowing just the two unearned runs over five innings while striking out three and walking just one.
Wisconsin had an impressive weekend, taking two of three from a daunting Nebraska team. Schwartz was stellar like always, as was the defense behind her Wisconsin’s patience at the plate paid off, as the lineup drew a shocking 19 walks in as many innings.
The Badgers will head to Penn State this weekend for a pivotal matchup—the Nittany Lions currently sit right behind Wisconsin in sixth place in the Big Ten.