Hot Start: Badgers off to best start in school history
UW improves to 10-1 with sweep at Diamond 9 Tournament
Offense, defense and pitching – the Wisconsin softball team put it all together this weekend, recording a 6-0 record at the Diamond 9 Tournament in Orlando, Fla. The Badgers picked up wins over Boston University and Georgia Southern on Sunday morning to win the weekend.
The six wins propel the Badgers to a 10-1 record, marking the best start in program history.
“It is always exciting to win games and it is great to have a fast start,” said head coach Yvette Healy. “We all know though, it’s not how you start, it is how you finish. We are happy for this group, it is fun to make a little bit of history, but we are staying focused on what happens now as we keep going.”
Wisconsin opened action on Sunday with a 6-4 win over Georgia Southern (7-7). After jumping out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, UW found itself in a position it hadn’t been in all weekend, trailing.
With two outs in the bottom of the first, the Eagles used three hits to score three runs and take a 3-1 lead. It was the first time the Badgers trailed an opponent all weekend.
UW chipped away at GSU’s lead with a run in the top of the second before reclaiming the lead, 5-3, with three runs in the top of the fourth. Wisconsin took a 6-3 lead in the top of the seventh when Katie Christner and Michelle Mueller executed a perfect double steal, with Mueller stealing home.
Georgia Southern led off the bottom of the seventh with a home run, the first allowed by the Badgers this season, but the Eagles wouldn’t come any closer as Cassandra Darrah got a strike out and a pair of ground outs to end the game.
Darrah earned her sixth win of the season, pitching 7.0 innings and striking out seven.
Wisconsin continued its hot start against Boston University (1-4) in the day’s second game. UW jumped ahead in the bottom of the third inning, using four hits -- including a pair of doubles -- to score three runs.
BU plated a run in the top of the fifth, but a home run to right field by Mary Massei in the bottom of the inning nullified the run. The Badgers posted an unearned run in the sixth to finish the game with a 5-1 win.
Meghan McIntosh pitched all seven inning for the Badgers, earning her second win of the weekend. McIntosh allowed just one run on three hits and struck out eight.
Wisconsin’s pitchers -- Darrah, McIntosh and Taylor-Paige Stewart -- combined to record a 1.05 ERA over the weekend, holding opponents to a .180 batting average.
The trio’s performance impressed Healy.
“Cassandra Darrah has been doing a great job for us and she got some big wins, but we are really proud of Meghan McIntosh and Taylor-Paige Stewart,” said Healy. “Both really held their own and handled their own games. To put together wins and not give up earned runs, it’s great for them too.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Wisconsin; with a trip to Fullerton, Calif., for six games starting Feb. 28 against Cal State Fullerton.
“Every game in California -- we’ve got six out there and they are all tough teams -- there’s not going to be an easy game out there,” said Healy. “There hasn’t been an easy game this whole season.
“These six games are all quality. Boston and Georgia Southern were both in the NCAA tournament last year, and were both 40-win teams with all-region pitchers. We faced phenomenal pitching all weekend and our offense really was impressive. I think it was the most impressive offensive weekend I’ve seen in a long time, to be able to face quality pitching like that. We know going into next weekend it is only going to get tougher.”