Badgers split with Northwestern in final home softball game - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Badgers split with Northwestern in final home softball game

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MADISON, Wis. – After inclement weather on Saturday forced play to stop at the bottom of the second inning, the Wisconsin softball team resumed action on Sunday with a doubleheader against Northwestern. Wisconsin (27-21-1, 10-9-1 Big Ten) defeated Northwestern 4-1 in the first game but dropped a 4-3 heartbreaker in the second game.

“Again, we have that chance to win the game. It’s exciting to get a win from Northwestern,” head coach Yvette Healy said. “Every series so far, we’ve gotten a win. I think that was a big goal going into the season… let’s go out and try to get one win against every single Big Ten team we face, and with Northwestern, we knew it was going to be a tall order.”

The doubleheader served as the final games at Goodman Diamond for Badger seniors Taylor-Paige Stewart, Macy Oswald, Katie Christner and Ashley Van Zeeland. The win secured this season’s senior class as the third winningest in school history with 128 career wins.

“I love that group. I don’t think that those four were really high-profile kids coming out of high school, and they have been just such great character kids for us,” Healy said. “They were the perfect fit. They believed in what we said, that the program was going to start making strides, and they came and were a part of it and they really changed the culture here to make it so that there was a lot of energy and great families.

“I’m really happy with what they’ve brought just to make the program into a really great atmosphere. I think that anybody in the country would want to play here now thanks to what those four helped to create.”

The Badgers began play with a 2-0 lead thanks to runs by Kelsey Jenkins and Van Zeeland on Saturday.

The momentum picked up right where it left off for the Badgers in the fourth inning as Jenkins extended UW’s lead to 3-0 after hitting her seventh home run of the year. Jenkins is now tied for the team-leading spot in home runs this season.

After NU (22-24, 12-8 Big Ten) brought in a runner at the top of the fifth to make it 3-1, the Badgers responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the sixth inning as Brianna Flugaur scored to make it 4-1 in UW’s favor.

The Wildcats would have no response to the Badger charge as the game ended after the top of the seventh.

During the second game that afternoon, Northwestern flipped the script as they shot off two runs in the first inning to make it 2-0.

However, UW fought back and neutralized Northwestern’s lead by responding with their own three-run inning in the second.

Sara Novak ripped off a single that allowed Chloe Miller and Katie Christner to run to home plate to tie things up and a Kelsey Jenkins single led to Taylor Berry sliding home to make it 3-2 going into the third.

But Northwestern wasn’t giving up as they scored runs in the fourth and fifth to take back the lead 4-3. However Taylor-Paige Stewart kept things exciting as she ended her career at Goodman with a swinging strikeout to hold the Wildcats to four runs at the conclusion of the top of the seventh.

Although the Badgers had a chance to take the game at the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and second and clutch hitter Melanie Cross up to bat, Northwestern’s pitcher Amy Letourneau was too much to handle and the team had to settle with a split doubleheader.

Jenkins led the Badgers in the first game with two hits, including a home run. Four UW players recorded one hit in the second game as Wisconsin was outhit 9-4 by Northwestern.

“Those four seniors, they come out and play hard for us every game,” Jenkins said. “Every one of us underclassmen looks to them for leadership and they are the definition of leadership and understanding of how to play Badger softball from being here for four years. It’s an honor to be able to play next to them.”

Stewart finished off a stellar day with a split, winning the first game after only allowing one run off of five hits and striking out six. She struck out two in the second game but took the loss after letting in two runs off of six hits. Junior Kirsten Stevens started both games and pitched a total of four innings through both games.

“I think we’re just happy that we’re playing such good teams late in the year that it’s going to help us play well at the Big Ten tournament,” Healy added. “The seeding is kind of a toss-up because so many of the teams are evenly matched. There’s nobody that I’m hoping to play and there’s nobody that I’m hoping we don’t play.

“I think we’ve got the ability to play with anybody in the conference, so now you just want to face good competition and be playing some good softball late, and we saw that this weekend. We played some really good softball and we were competitive the whole time, so that’s definitely a sign of progress.”

Wisconsin returns to action this weekend as they travel to Nebraska for one final series before the Big Ten Tournament. The first game kicks off on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT.

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