Badgers win Border Battle, Big Ten Softball title too

Some worried about a let down from the Badgers following their upset of Michigan on Saturday and after going down 2-0 early on it appeared that could be the case. However the Badgers rallied back and came away 9-3 winners for the 2nd straight day, earning the programs first ever Big Ten tournament title and beating rival Minnesota to do it. 

With the win Wisconsin (42-11) earned the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, returning to the national tournament for the 1st time since 2005. 

The Badgers were easily the most dominate team in the tournament and a lot of that had to do with the performance of pitcher Cassandra Darrah, who went all seven innings in the tournament final. 

Her three straight complete game W's in the tournament earned her tournament MVP honors. She was joined on the all-tournament team by freshman Steffani LaJuenesse and sophomore Maria Van Abel. 

LaJuenesse's highlight came on Saturday with her first inning pitch hit grand slam and Van Abel finished the tournament 3 for 7 (.428), scoring 3 runs as well.

On Sunday things weren't quite as easy as the final score would indicate as UW and UM were both scoreless through two innings. However, the third wasn't quite so kind to Darrah and the Badgers as a walk and a passed ball saw a Gopher runner sitting on third with two outs. Instead of stranding the runner, it was UM getting on the board first thanks to a massive two run home run by Tyler Walker to put the Gophers up 2-0. 

From there though, things settled down for Darrah, who allowed only two hits and two earned runs while striking out 8 and walking only one. 

She would get plenty help from the offense and a series of bad errors and hit batters en route to the win. Six different Badgers drove in runs and the fourth inning would be all the Badgers needed to pull away. 

Entering the inning tied 2-2, Wisconsin made a statement thanks to a lead-off home run from Meghan Mueller to give the Badgers a lead they wouldn't relinquish. After a Stephanie Peace walk the next two batters would strike out. 

Maria Van Abel would single up the middle and then it was a comedy of errors by the Gophers (who else would do that, right?) as they would load up the bases on thanks to an error and two hit batters, both of which scored runs. 

When it was all said and done in the fourth the Badgers were up 7-2 and didn't look back from there. 

Wisconsin now awaits the NCAA selection show to find out whom they will face to open up tournament play. You can tune into the selection show at 9pm CT tonight on ESPNU. We'll also be tweeting it live. 

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com

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