One swing of the bat, that's all it took for UW to make the softball world stand up and take notice on their way to a 9-3 win over No. 6/8 Michigan in Saturday's Big Ten Tournament semi final. With Wisconsin up 2-0 already up stepped pinch hitter, Steffani LaJuenesse, and what transpired in her at bat changed the face of the game and UW's resume for the NCAA tournament.
Call it a hunch or call it dumb luck, whatever it was that made coach Yvette Healy put LaJuenesse in it worked as LaJuenesse stepped up and delivered a virtual knock out blow with a two out grand slam that made it 6-0 before the 1st inning was complete.
Any pitcher seeing six runs of support on the board would be confident and that's exactly what Cassandra Darrah had on her way to a good outing, minus one inning. Darrah pitched a complete game, giving up 6 hits and 2 walks, while striking out four with all three runs earned.
Of course the Wolverines wouldn't go down without a fight and that came in the form of their fifth inning. It all got started with a bang as pitcher Sara Driesenga helped her own cause with a solo home run to right field, no small feat on a day when the wind was howling in from right all day long, getting UofM on the board for the 1st time in the game.
Michigan would plate another run on a ball up the middle that resulted in a fielder's choice out at 2nd. After getting powerful freshman Sierra Romero to fly out the Wolverines got a double from Caitlin Blanchard and it was three runs home for the Wolverines.
Overall it was a three run inning on four hits, however the six run first proved to be too much for the Wolverines to overcome as it was still 7-3 to the Badgers advantage.
Wisconsin's offense was silent for the most part after the first inning, but Michigan's fifth inning woke them up and UW would plate two runs of their own to make it 9-3 after five innings. They nearly mercy ruled the Wolverines as they stranded runners on 2nd and 3rd, who would've scored with a single and ended the game.
The Badgers got 9 hits on offense and forced three errors by the Wolverines in the upset win.
Wisconsin will play for their first ever Big Ten Softball Tournament championship tomorrow at noon CT on BTN. They will take on the winner of Nebraska vs. Minnesota.