Survive and advance - it's a term that we all hear often associated with playoffs in sports and it held somewhat true for Wisconsin on Friday as they stared elimination in the face twice and rather than just survive they pounced on the chances provided to them, advancing to see another day in the NCAA tournament with wins of 6-0 over BYU and 6-2 over North Carolina.
The 6-0 win over BYU marked Wisconsin's first NCAA softball tournament win in program history. Cassandra Darrah excelled from the circle, going 6 innings while giving up just two hits and striking out four. They also got a lot of timely hitting from her teammates to advance to the nightcap and the final elimination game of the day.
Perhaps the biggest highlight outside of Darrah's pitching performance in the opener was the three run home run from Stephanie Peace, who hit it deep to the left field bleachers to make the game 5-0 at that point. It was all the Badgers and Darrah needed to help eliminate BYU from tournament play and keep their tournament hopes alive as well.
With the pair of wins on Friday the Badgers advanced to Saturday to take on the host Oregon, who have yet to lose in regional play. In order for Wisconsin to advance beyond tomorrow they will need to win both games.
Just over an hour after their 1st NCAA tournament win it was the rubber match between the Tar Heels of North Carolina and Wisconsin, two teams who met less than 24 hours before and ended in controversial fashion to say the least. It seemed as though the Badgers, despite having less down time between games today came out more focused.
It showed as they were once again the first team to score, going up 1-0 in the top of the 1st as Mary Massei scored on a fielders choice. Wisconsin improved to 31-4 on the season when it scores the first runs of the game.
From there it was all about pitching for Wisconsin as Meghan McIntosh pulled out one of her best performances from the circle, throwing a complete game and allowing only 2 runs on 5 hits while striking out 6 batters and walking no Tar Heels.
Wisconsin also helped her out defensively and at the plate, adding two runs in the top of the third thanks to a Marissa Mersch double to left-center field that plated Michelle Mueller and thanks to a throwing error allowed Mary Massei to score as well, making it 3-0 at that point.
After a scoreless 4th the Badgers tacked on three more runs in the 5th to make it 6-1 and again put the game out of reach.
Overall the story of Friday at the Eugene regional was pitching for the Badgers as both Darrah and McIntosh were great from the circle and most importantly with McIntosh's performance they were able to save Darrah's arm for Saturday.
At the plate it was Stephanie Peace (2-7, 3 RBI's) and leadoff hitter Mary Massei (3-8, 1 run scored, 1 RBI) that stood out for the Badgers in the two wins.
Wisconsin faces elimination again tomorrow and first pitch of the first game is scheduled for 2pm CT and you can find it online for free!