Playing in one of its biggest games of the season, the Wisconsin softball team came up huge with a 3-0 win over Northwestern at the Big Ten Softball Tournament Friday afternoon at Bowlin Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
Wisconsin (40-11) used three hits and took advantage of three Northwestern (31-22) errors to earn its 40th win of the year.
"It is great to get a win at the Big Ten tournament," said head coach Yvette Healy. "The Big Ten is having such a great year that you are facing a ton of teams that are top-50, top-20 teams. To get our first postseason experience as a group and to come out with a W, we are really proud."
Cassandra Darrah moved into second place on the UW single season record list with her 24 win of the season. Darrah allowed just four hits and struck out eight in her seventh shutout of the year.
"Cassandra (Darrah) threw a great game," continued Healy. "To throw a shutout against their offense is phenomenal and the kids were scrappy. They got on base, they pressured and we played Wisconsin softball."
Wisconsin took advantage of Northwestern errors to score all three runs. In the bottom of the third inning, Kendall Grimm reached first on a throwing error by the Wildcats, setting up the first run of the game. Grimm advanced to third on a single by Mary Massei and scored the first run of the game on a passed ball.
The Badgers took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth after Stephanie Peace drew a walk and scored from second on a throwing error by the Northwestern pitcher.
Northwestern threatened in the fifth, loading the bases with two outs before Darrah ended the inning with a groundout.
UW went ahead 3-0 in the sixth inning, again taking advantage of a NU error. Maria Van Abel grounded back to the pitcher, but a wide throw made her safe and gave her the chance to advance to second. A single through the right side by Ashley Van Zeeland advanced Van Abel to third and a bases loaded walk by Massei score the run.
Darrah fought through a pair of singles in the top of the seventh to record the complete-game shutout.
Northwestern's Amy Letourneau suffered the loss, allowing three unearned runs on three hits. The sophomore struck out seven and walked six.
Wisconsin will play winner of No. 1-seed Michigan and No. 8 Ohio State in the semifinal round of action on Saturday at 2 p.m.