URBANA, Ill. -- A school-record six home runs, including three by Mary Massei, powered the Wisconsin softball team to a 10-7 win over Illinois Sunday afternoon at Eichelberger Field.
In the first game of the day, a four-run rally in the seventh was stopped short, as Wisconsin suffered an 8-7 defeat to the Fighting Illini, ending a nine-game win streak.
In the series finale, Wisconsin (24-13 overall, 8-4 Big Ten) took an early lead with a first-pitch homer from Massei in the first inning.
Illinois (18-20, 3-9) tied the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the first on a RBI double by Danielle Vaji. Illinois gained the lead in the second inning, 2-1, after scoring on a passed ball.
The score became tied again in the third inning with another solo homer from Massei, this time to right-center field.
The offense kept rolling for Wisconsin with a leadoff home run by Shannel Blackshear in the top of the fourth to put the Badgers up 3-2. Michelle Mueller joined the home run extravaganza with a solo shot in the fourth and Wisconsin's lead was extended to 4-2.
Wisconsin tacked on five runs in the sixth after starting pitcher Jackie Guy was replaced by Pepper Gay. Mueller scored two runs with a single up the middle before Massei hit a three-run home run to give the Badgers a 9-3 lead and set a new UW single-game home run record.
A home run by Stephanie Peace in the top of the seventh was the Badgers' sixth long ball of the game, setting a UW single-game record.
Despite a four run rally by the Illini in the bottom of the seventh, the Badgers held on for a 10-7 win.
Meghan McIntosh made the start in the circle for the Badgers, but was replaced by Amanda Najdek after three and one-third innings. Najdek pitched for two and two-thirds innings before Cassandra Darrah closed out the final inning for the Badgers.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Wisconsin rallied back late in the game to score four runs in the top of the seventh inning, but it was too little, too late.
The Badgers found themselves down early, as Illinois scored in the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run from Jessica Davis. Wisconsin was able to tie up the game in the third inning before a four-run fourth inning by Illinois gave the Illini a 5-1 advantage.
The Badgers tacked on two more runs in the top of the fifth to get within two, 5-3.
But Illini offense kept rolling in the bottom of the inning, scoring three runs on four hits and a fielding error by the Badgers. The three-run inning forced a UW pitching change and McIntosh entered the game in relief of Darrah.
Illinois stopped the Badgers' rally in the top of the seventh to hold on for the win.
Darrah went five innings, giving up nine hits and eight runs, only one of which was earned, in the loss.
Wisconsin returns back to Goodman Diamond this upcoming weekend, April 21-22, to host Penn State in a three-game series. Saturday's doubleheader will start at noon.
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