Softball splits doubleheader to end regular season

Wisconsin came into Sunday needed two wins and some big time help from Penn State in order to take the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Big Ten tournament. That goal was on track after Wisconsin blanked the visiting Spartans 3-0 in the opener at Goodman Diamond. However, hope flamed out as MSU responded back with an 11-5 thrashing of UW to spoil Senior Weekend on the shores of Lake Mendota. 

The Badgers finish the regular season with a record of 39-11, setting a school record for wins in a season along the way and will have the 3rd seed in the upcoming Big Ten tournament on May 9-12 in Lincoln, NE. 

In the opener things got off to a cracking start, quite literally as leadoff hitter Marry Massei cracked a solo home run to put Wisconsin up 1-0. It was her 7th home run of the season and set the tone for UW. 

After a bit of trouble in the opening frame for Cassandra Darrah at the circle, she settled down quite a bit, getting back-to-back 1,2,3 innings in the 2nd and 3rd. 

However, the Badger bats couldn't find a way to get another run across despite putting runners on base in each of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th - where they had their best chance for a run since the Massei homer to lead off the game.

Shannel Blackshear led the inning off with a walk and saw pinch-run for by Katie Christiner, who promptly stole second with no outs. However, the Badgers couldn't find a way to get her home despite a sacrifice bunt that moved both her and Stephanie Peace to 3rd and 2nd respectively. 

Instead of scoring it was a foreshadowing to what was to come as Wisconsin plated two more as Marry Massei slugged home her 2nd home run of the game (8th of the season) to make it 2-0 with one out in the 5th. Whitney Massey  would score the final run of the game on a Stephanie Peace single to left field. 

It would be all the run support Darrah needed as the Badgers pitcher went all seven innings, allowing 6 hits and striking out two, but keeping the Spartans off the board in combination with some great defense behind her. She improved to 23-5 on the season  with a 1.76ERA with the win. 

The cap on the regular season wasn't exactly what UW was hoping for as the first inning once again came back to bite them, ala the series opener and they went down to a game Spartans squad 11-5 to end the regular season. 

MSU managed to shake up starter Meghan McIntosh, who lasted all of one-third of an inning and took the loss thanks to 6 runs (5 earned) on four hits. She would be replaced by Taylor-Paige Stewart, who would go the rest of the way for Wisconsin, but didn't fare all that much better in the long haul.

UW attempted to comeback, sort of - scoring one run in the bottom of the 1st off of a Michelle Meuller single that plated Kendall Grimm. However, it was already too little too late for the Badgers.

Wisconsin couldn't keep the Spartans off the scoreboard all afternoon in the rubber match as they would tack on three runs in the 5th to make it 9-1 before the Badgers added two runs of their own to make it 9-4 heading into the top of the 6th. 

After a scoreless 6th the Spartans really put it out of reach with a pair of runs in their half of the 7th to make it 11-4. UW would find one run in their final at-bat's but it was clearly not enough as they went down 11-5 to end the regular season. 

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, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site