Badgers fall 5-3 to Wildcats after late surge - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Badgers fall 5-3 to Wildcats after late surge

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MADISON, Wis. – A late sixth- and seventh-inning surge wasn’t enough for the Wisconsin softball team on a chilly Friday afternoon as the Badgers fell, 5-3, in the first game of the three-game series against Northwestern at Goodman Diamond.

“I’m happy. I think we’ve done it against Northwestern before, I think it shows a lot of fight,” head coach Yvette Healy said. “Whenever you face a ranked team or a team that’s very good, you’re always just trying to give yourself a chance to win at the end.”

“Whenever you have the winning run come to the plate in the seventh, we’re really proud. It’s a great first step and sometimes before you beat those teams you have to have a great shot at it.”

The Badgers (26-20-1, 9-8-1 Big Ten) remained scoreless through five innings, but a solo homerun from sophomore Kelsey Jenkins began the offensive movement. Jenkins’ home run marks the 12th of her career, while she is tied for second on the team with six this season. The third baseman’s home run ties her season-high mark as well.

Jenkins led the team in hits on the game with three, just barely missing her season-high mark of four in a game.

UW’s junior pitcher had a day of her own from the circle, as Kirsten Stevens retired eight Northwestern batters in a row, broken up by a single through to the left side by pitcher Amy Letourneau in the top of the seventh inning.

Letourneau led the offensive efforts for Northwestern (21-23, 11-7 Big Ten) as she tallied 11 strikeouts to match a season-high mark.

Sabrina Rabin began the game for the Wildcats with a single to short stop and a stolen base to end up on second and in scoring position. A pair of Northwestern ground outs left Rabin on third, as Letourneau singled to the left side and brought Rabin home for the run.

The Badgers tried to match the offensive momentum, but Jenkins and senior Ashley Van Zeeland went down in order before junior Chloe Miller was walked and freshman Melanie Cross grounded out to end the inning.

The Wildcats increased their lead by two runs after committing a pair of outs right off the bat. Alcy Bush and Krista Williams reached off of a pair of Wisconsin errors, putting two runners on base for Northwestern. A bunt single from Rabin loaded the bases, while Bush and Williams capitalized off single hits to add two runs to the Wildcat’s count.

Three Wisconsin batters struck out at home plate in the bottom of the second to bring UW back to the field for the top of the third frame.

Scoring their final two runs of the game, the Wildcats made an effort off of a double to right center from Sammy Nettling to bring pinch runner Abbey Boyd home for a run. Nettling made her own run at scoring, as she ran through the home plate for a run off of a single to center field from Brooke Marquez. Williams hit a groundout to end the inning and put the Badgers back in offensive position.

Despite a single from Jenkins, the Badgers were unable to get things going offensively as they surrendered the third inning and took the field once again.

Northwestern went three up, three down in the top of the fourth to give the Badgers another shot at scoring.

The Badgers followed suit as they went down in order to end the fourth frame all together.

Registering just one hit, Wisconsin shut down the Wildcats at the plate in the top of the fifth to earn their fifth chance at home plate, but were unable to get a piece of the ball as they went down in order once again.

Stevens retired three consecutive batters to put the Badgers in offensive position in the bottom of the sixth. After Oswald struck out swinging at the plate, Jenkins capitalized on a full count to register an RBI homerun, her sixth of the season.

Jenkins gave the Badgers their first run of the game, bringing the score to 5-1.

Van Zeeland followed suit with a single to the left side while Cross was walked to first, but junior Sara Novak struck out swinging at home plate to end the sixth inning.

Stevens retired two consecutive batters before giving up a single hit to Letourneau. Looking to shut down the Wildcats, the Badgers grabbed a grounder for the third out to end the top of the seventh frame and have one last chance at scoring.

Senior Katie Christner began the momentum for the Badgers, as she was walked after a full count. Sophomore Samantha Arents attempted to continue the stride, but hit a pop fly that was caught for the first out.

Freshman Kelly Welsh hit a bunt single to push Christner to second, but Oswald followed and struck out looking for the second out.

Connecting on her third hit of the game, Jenkins hit a single line drive to left field bringing Christner home and putting Welsh on third in scoring position with two outs on the inning.

Van Zeeland singled to second base for an RBI off of a full count to load the bases and give the Badgers a chance to win the game, but it was abruptly ended as Miller struck out looking off of a full count.

“I’m just really proud of the team extending the game. I think Northwestern is outstanding and early on they came on so strong and so fast, we easily could have gotten run-ruled if we didn’t have a mature team,” Healy said. “Kirsten Stevens found her groove and the defensive settled in which kept us in it long enough for us to rally at the end.”

The series continues with the Wildcats on Saturday, as the first pitch it set to be thrown at 11 a.m. (CT).

“Hopefully we can build on today,” Healy said. “I like what we looked like at the end so if we could pick up where we left off and settle in right from the start, it could be exciting. We’re just working on trying to steal a game.”

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