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Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Wisconsin softball defeats DePaul 11-1 at Goodman Softball Diamond on April 11, 2023 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Wisconsin loses winning record at Clearwater Invitational

With a much more challenging schedule, the Wisconsin Badgers softball team lost all five games in Florida at the Clearwater Invitational.

The Wisconsin Badgers softball team dropped five straight tough losses and lost its winning record for the season Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Clearwater Invitational in Florida.

Wisconsin took on the No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs in the first match of Thursday’s doubleheader. The Badgers led 4-0 by the end of the second, with RBIs from outfielder Brooke Kuffel and infielder Alivia Bark and a homerun from infielder Ellie Hubbard. 

The Bulldogs and the Badgers went back and forth for ten innings, with freshman Eden Echevarria crashing the party with the first hit of her career. It was an incredibly close game until Wisconsin fell short at the finish line and lost 6-7, no thanks to four fielding errors. 

During the bottom of the 10th, starting pitcher Tessa Magnanimo came back and intentionally walked two batters, hoping the runner on third would be forced out at home, but Georgia singled down the middle to win the game. 

Wisconsin fell one run short in the second game of Thursday’s double-header, losing 5-6 to the No. 18 Kentucky Wildcats.

Once again, the Badgers began with an early lead, this time 3-0 by the end of the first after catcher Emmy Wells crushed a first inning three-run homer over the left-field fence. Kentucky evened out the score in the second, pushing pitcher Gabi Salo out of the game and welcoming relief pitcher Shelby Jacobson. 

The Wildcats rallied to take the lead, but the Badgers tied the game 4-4 after outfielder Peyton Bannon stole home in the fourth. Kentucky then stole the lead back 4-6 after a sac bunt and a Wisconsin throwing error. Bannon scored again for Wisconsin with an RBI from catcher Hilary Blomberg, but the Badgers fell short in the rally after a closing double play from Kentucky. 

The Badgers dropped two more losses in Friday games.

Wisconsin’s luck wasn’t any better in Friday’s doubleheader, losing to the No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowgirls and the UCF Knights. 

With two-run blasts from outfielder Brooke Kuffel and infielder Alivia Bark and an RBI single from infielder Ava Kuszak, the Badgers dominated OSU’s pitching in the first three innings, leading 5-2. 

The game slowed for the Badgers after the third when OSU’s bullpen was brought in, but the game had just started for the Cowgirls, who ended up finding their offense to win 5-9.

In the Badgers’ second game of the day, Wisconsin and UCF rallied steadily back and forth until the Knights proved their dominance with an eight-run sixth inning, forcing the Badgers into a 9-21 loss.

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The high-scoring game started with UCF scoring two single home runs off of Magnanimo in the first, which infielder Fiona Girardot evened out with her two-run single for Wisconsin. The second inning mirrored the first, with two runs from the Knights as the Badgers caught up with a homerun from Bannon. 

After two more runs from UCF in the third, Wisconsin one-upped them and took the lead 8-7 with hits from Bark, Blomberg and Wells to close the inning. UCF then collected six runs in the next two innings while Wisconsin found only one, a solo homer from Bark’s. Finally, Salo allowed eight runs from the Knights in the sixth inning to trigger the run role and close the game at 21-9.

Wisconsin ended the tournament with one final loss on Saturday.

Wisconsin also fell in their last game Saturday as the No. 5 Washington Huskies dominated both sides of the field. The Badgers lost 1-9— their fewest runs scored in a game the season— as their season record nosedived to 4-6.

Continuing the strong starting trend for Wisconsin, Giradot hit a solo home run in the second, the team’s only run of the game and one of just the two hits, the other being from catcher Emily Bojan in the fifth. Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s pitchers walked eight Huskies and threw five wild pitches. 

Despite not sufficiently fighting through the five games in Clearwater, Wisconsin still notched home runs in all five games. The Badgers will look to regain their groove back next week in California at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic on Feb. 22-24. 

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