Wisconsin heads to Regional Championship for rematch with Oregon - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wisconsin heads to Regional Championship for rematch with Oregon

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EUGENE, Ore. – The Wisconsin softball team (35-16 overall) will live to see another day after defeating Illinois-Chicago (39-22) with a 2-0 blanking on Saturday night. Senior Kirsten Stevens dominated from the circle and threw her sixth shutout of the season.

Sophomore Kelly Welsh and junior Kelsey Jenkins ignited the Badger offense in the fifth inning. Under pressure with two outs and a scoreless ball game, Welsh came up big with a single to left field on a full count. Jenkins put the cherry on top as she sent an RBI single to center field and brought Welsh in for the first run of the game.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, sophomore Stephanie Lombardo drew a walk and then was pinch ran for by Brianna Flugaur. Flugaur stole second and then advanced to third on a wild pitch, putting her in perfect position for freshman Jordan Little. Little reached on a fielding error by the Flames’ third baseman that allowed Flugaur to score and clinch the 2-0 victory for the Badgers.

UW tallied four hits and committed one error in the contest.

Jenkins led the team with two hits, while senior Chloe Miller and sophomore Kelly Welsh each tallied one hit.

Notes to Know:
-The Badgers are 7-11 all-time in NCAA play, advancing to the regional championships for the third time as a program.
-Chicago-Illinois narrowly lead Wisconsin in hits, 5-4, marking the fifth time this year that the Badgers have won despite being outhit by an opponent.
-For the ninth time this season, Wisconsin hit multiple home runs in a contest when seniors Chloe Miller and Sara Novak each sent two-run bombs over the Ducks. Both players led the team with two RBI apiece.
-Miller's 31st career homer now sits alone atop the Wisconsin home run records.
-Brooke Wyderski recorded two hits against Oregon before going 0-for-3 against UIC, capping her hitting streak at 12 games. The junior notched 16 hits in the span.
-Kaitlyn Menz (24-11) threw 8.0 innings against Oregon, walking only one batter and striking out two. She allowed nine hits and three earned runs.
-Kirsten Stevens (10-4) threw seven innings against UIC, dealing eight strikeouts and allowing five hits in the shutout.
-Brianna Flugaur recorded her team-leading 20th stolen base against the Flames, putting herself into scoring position to give the Badgers the go-ahead run in the fifth inning.

Details from the Dugout:
"I think we came out really strong today, facing Oregon on their field. I was really proud that the team was kind of showing no fear. Oregon is that good. They're as good as advertised and we knew they would be. But when you face that team, you can't replicate that experience. For everybody that got out there, your freshman throws a great game against them. They won the game, we didn't give it to them and we gave them a great battle. I love that.

"But to have a senior come out and have Kirsten Stevens put up a zero and get you a win to advance to the top 32 teams in the country, that's such a big deal. That's such a big stepping stone for the program and for us to get to face Oregon again, that's exactly what you want. If you're trying to make this program great and figure out how to become a better program and really vie to be a top program in the country, you've got to face the best teams. You can't pay for that experience to see Oregon again, we're thrilled about that."

"I think you keep fighting, I really like that. They've got a lot of pitching, we know that and we should see a lot of people. The fun part about this, they're in a great position that we have to win two, but if we win one game, all bets are off and it's going to get exciting. You put everything into that first game and see if you can make it even more exciting."

-UW Head Coach Yvette Healy

"We just got together as a team and we sat in the locker room for a little bit, we think about the loss but we can't think about it when we're playing our second game of the day playing a completely different team, being UIC. We played them in the fall, we knew they were going to be a tough opponent, so we were just making little jokes and being ourselves in the dugout and outside the dugout, and that helped us get the W for sure."

"We knew [Karissa Frazier] was a drop ball pitcher, we knew we had to get the knee below the ball and just making solid contact was all I wanted to do. Bonus that she went from second to home. As long as I can keep rolling the lineup over to Chloe and Brooke, who are getting big RBIs for us, that's my job and that's what I've been trying to do."

"I think we're excited. There's nothing for us to lose but to come out and play a good game and make them play their best softball. Hopefully we can come out and play our best softball and have another great game like we did today, except us coming out on top."

-Kelsey Jenkins

"My sophomore year at Mercer we were in our conference tournament and we had just lost a really heartbreaking game, we had one more game and if we lost we were done. It was a really close game like this, so I think having that kind of experience and having confidence in my team helped keep me relaxed out there."

"One of the traits we've been working on this year has been the phrase 'Flush It.' Coach Healy talked about that phrase to us after the game with Oregon, saying this was a tough loss but we can't let that still be in our heads. Knowing I was going to come in and pitch the next game, I knew this was a huge role I had to play for my team and help them out after they busted their butts the last game. Knowing that I had a job to do and trusting my defense that we were going to do a great job, it helped me stay relaxed and we had just a great time."

"I was really happy, [getting strikeouts] takes some pressure off the defense and it gets the team excited. It's such a great energy coming on and off the field and helps the team get ready to hit and everything. I was happy that I got the strikeouts and I was also really happy that our defense was doing a fantastic job too.

"I was really happy with my curveball today, it's been something I've been working on for a while now and making sure it's consistent both on the left side and the right side of the plate. That really helped take the pressure off myself. Being able to mix different pitches, from my curveball I can work my rise or my change, I had more variety today which was great."

-Kirsten Stevens

Up Next:
Wisconsin and Oregon will rematch on Sunday afternoon at 6 p.m. CT in the regional championship game.

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