Small Ball Leads Badgers Past Illini, 3-2, in Finale
April 12, 2014
Madison, Wis. – Illinois and Wisconsin sent their aces back to the circle for the Big Ten series finale, and in what felt nearly like déjà vu from game one, the Badgers snuck past the Illini, 3-2, to complete the series sweep. The Badgers put up a pair of runs in the first inning, but the Illini tied the game in the third, and the score remained knotted through the majority of the contest until Wisconsin finally found home plate in the bottom of the sixth to capture another one-run victory. With the win, the Badgers move above .500 in the Big Ten standings, improving to 22-15 (6-5 Big Ten), while the Illini slip to 18-18 (2-10 Big Ten).
“We came out and cleaned up a lot of things this game,” said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. “I loved how we came back after getting down early again. We are getting on track to playing our kind of softball, we just can’t hold back for one pitch on having unstoppable tenacity.”
For the third time this weekend, Allie Bauch led the Illini at the plate, going 2-for-4 and scoring the tying run in the third inning. Remeny Perez drove her in with an RBI double, while Jenna Mychko belted her team-leading sixth home run of the season to plate the first Illini run. Jade Vecvanags singled to lead off the seventh, and Ruby Rivera provided Illinois’ remaining hit.
Ashley Van Zeeland was the only Badger to have a multi-hit performance, going 2-for-3 with the game-winning RBI. Michelle Mueller had an RBI single, a walk and the go-ahead run, and Chloe Miller also hit an RBI single. Mary Massei doubled and scored in the first inning, and Stephanie Peace singled and scored right behind her.
Cassandra Darrah (13-10) went the distance for the Badgers, allowing two runs on six hits and no walks with 10 strikeouts. Brandi Needham (13-9) pitched the full six innings for the Illini, giving up three runs on seven hits and a walk with one K.
Massei led off the bottom of the first inning with a double to left. Peace followed with a single, then stole second to get into scoring position. Mueller drove in the first run of the game with an RBI ground out to second, then Miller made it 2-0 with an RBI single through the right side.
Mychko cut the deficit in half in the top of the second, drilling a solo home run out of the park in left field.
The Illini used a two-out rally to tie the score in the top of the third. Bauch singled to left, then Perez drilled an RBI double to center to knot the score at two.
After nearly four scoreless innings, Wisconsin finally broke the tie in the bottom of the sixth. Mueller drew a leadoff walk. Miller bunted her to second, and a ground out allowed her to get to third. Van Zeeland then used her speed to beat out a high chopper to second with two outs, driving in Mueller and giving the Badgers back the lead, 3-2.
Vecvanags led off the top of the seventh with a single up the middle. Katie Repole bunted pinch runner Alyssa Gunther into scoring position, but Darrah got the next two batters out to seal up her second 3-2 victory of the weekend.
Next Up: Illinois returns home on Wednesday, April 16, to host DePaul in the final nonconference game of the season. First pitch at Eichelberger Field is set for 4 p.m.