Badgers shutout Illini to tie up series

Wisconsin beats Illinois, 3-0
Badgers shutout Illini to tie up series

Shutting out a top-25 team is no easy feat, but the Wisconsin softball team did it when the Badgers blanked No. 22 (ESPN/USA Softball) Illinois 3-0 at Eichelberger Field on Saturday afternoon.

Despite giving up a leadoff double to the Illini (35-12 overall, 13-4 Big Ten), the Badgers (29-13, 8-11) recovered nicely with three-straight putouts off of two unassisted outs by Stephanie Lombardo and the final pop up to Kaitlyn Menz to end the first inning.

The second inning was quiet as both teams each tallied a hit but left a runner stranded.

The Badgers took the Illini down in order in the bottom of the third to keep the game scoreless through three innings. UW evened up the hit column in the top of the fourth when Lombardo ripped a shot through the left side but the Badgers still couldn’t make anything of it.

Wisconsin had one of its best opportunities of the game when freshman Jordan Little knocked in a hit to the Illini shortstop who then overthrew it, advancing Little to second. Little threatened even more as she moved over to third after a groundout by pinch-hitter, Samantha Arents. Little was eventually tagged out at home plate, leaving both teams scoreless headed into the bottom of the fifth.

With two outs, the Illini loaded up the bases in the bottom of the fifth off of three walks, but Menz took down the final batter, saving the Badgers from a dangerous situation.

Junior Kelsey Jenkins led off the top of the sixth inning with a single right up the middle and was moved to second off of a sacrifice bunt from Chloe Miller. Junior Brooke Wyderski put the Badgers on the board first with a double to left field that sent Jenkins home for the 1-0 UW lead.

The Badger offense tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the seventh UW loaded the bases thanks to three walks issued by Illinois. Jenkins was hit by a pitch to bring in one run and Miller used a fiery shot through the right side to tack on the third and final run for UW.

Menz and company retired the Illinois lineup in order in the bottom of the seventh to tie up the series.