Badgers allow single run to drop final game of series - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Badgers allow single run to drop final game of series

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MADISON, Wis. – After maintaining a quiet first five innings, the Wisconsin softball team was unable to overcome a single sixth-inning run to Illinois as the Badgers surrendered the weekend home series in a 1-0 decision on Sunday afternoon at Goodman Diamond.

Illinois (28-19, 7-10 Big Ten) wasn't able to shut down the Badgers completely, however, as Kelsey Jenkinsmade the day her own by tying her own school record for walks in a single season with a total of 42.

The Badgers were hot from the pitcher's circle this afternoon as well, as the pair of Kirsten Stevens andTaylor-Paige Stewart allowed just one run and five hits on the game.

"I thought the pitching was phenomenal," head coach Yvette Healy said. "Just to hold Illinois' offense to one run is a really big deal. Even the one they scored was a fielder's choice it wasn't even a legitimate crushed hit. The whole weekend we kept the ball in the park against a really big home run hitting team and I'm proud of that.

"We had a lot of opportunities today as well even though we didn't have a lot of hits. You just keep trying to put yourself in a position to win. In the bottom of the sixth, we get a big hit to lead off and nine times out of 10 I think we're going to score but today they just shut us down."

Eager to get to the plate, the Badgers shut down Illinois by allowing just one hit in the top of the first.

Jenkins led off the game offensively for Wisconsin (24-19-1, 9-7-1) with the record-setting walk, but the Badgers were unable to get things going as both Ashley Van Zeeland and Chloe Miller grounded out. Miller grounded out in to a double play that tagged Jenkins out as well.

Ruby Rivera of the Fighting Illini singled to shortstop in an attempt to turn up the heat for Illinois, but was caught stealing by Van Zeeland and Melanie Cross on the following play.

Illinois was able to tally a pair of hits in the second, but the game remained scoreless heading into the bottom of the frame.

The Badgers stretched out the even score as they went three up, three down to end the inning.

UW made a solid double play after Illinois' Alyssa Gunther grounded out to put the Badgers back up at home plate in the bottom of the fourth frame, but Wisconsin went down in order once again to keep the score even at zero.

Illinois followed suit and went down in order to put the Badgers back in offensive position.

Jenkins gave the Badgers a decent scoring opportunity as she singled to left field and advanced to second thanks to a bunt from Van Zeeland, but her teammates were unable to bring her home as freshman Cross flied out to right field to end the frame.

The Illini picked up another hit in the top of the fifth inning, but were stopped short by the Badgers after an unassisted out by Jenkins at third and a line drive out to Macy Oswald at second base.

Freshman Kelly Welsh gave the Badgers a two-out double and a chance to get on the board, but UW was unable to capitalize on the scoring opportunity and the inning was cut short.

The sixth inning proved the difference for the Illini, as the Badgers committed the only error of the game to give Illinois a 1-0 lead. Nicole Evans reached first off the error by Van Zeeland and Sam Acosta entered in to pinch run for her.

The Badgers countered with a pitching change, as Stewart checked in for Stevens, but Danielle Trezzo's grounder to shortstop was enough to bring Acosta in for the score.

Stewart caught Remeny Perez looking at home plate to end the top of the sixth and give the Badgers a chance to score.

Senior Macy Oswald started off the frame with momentum as she singled up the middle and was replaced by pinch runner Brianna Flugaur. Jenkins followed up and reached first base on a fielder's choice play that forced Flugaur out at second, but Van Zeeland grounded out into an Illini double play to end the inning.

Illinois was unable to increase the gap, as they went down in order to give way to the Badgers' last chance at scoring.

Illini pitcher Breanna Wonderly caught both Miller and Samantha Arents looking at home plate, whileKatie Christner hit a pop fly to third base to end the game and give the Illini the series win.

The Badgers finished with four hits and one error on the game, while the Illini had one run and five hits.

Stevens had two strikeouts and three walks in the game while Stewart tallied one strikeout and walked none.

Wisconsin returns to Goodman Diamond on Tuesday for doubleheader action against Green Bay. The games are set to begin at 2 p.m. (CT) and 4 p.m.

"It's an emotional game against an in-state rivalry," coach Healy said. "Green Bay plays really hard and I think we're looking to get back on track and get some wins at home. It's fun to play in-state kids and bring our A-games to get wins."

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