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September 16, 2020 | |Post a Comment

first_imgLooking to avoid the weekend sweep on Senior Day after a pair of Saturday losses, the Wisconsin softball team dropped its Sunday afternoon game against Nebraska, falling 9-0 in mercy-rule fashion at the Goodman Diamond.Game 3With a sellout crowd of 1,612 and concession lines stretching beyond 50 feet, Nebraska (29-19, 15-5 Big Ten) swiftly showed they are an NCAA bubble-team with something to prove.Taylor-Paige Stewart took the mound for the Badgers in an attempt to rebound from her Saturday outing, one that saw Nebraska score nine times on five earned in just three innings of work. The Huskers instead picked up right where they left off, putting four runs on the board before Wisconsin (19-28, 3-14 Big Ten) could even pick up its bats.After allowing an RBI single to infielder Alicia Armstrong, cleanup hitter Steph Pasquale broke the game open with a three-run bomb over the right field fence to make it 4-0. Wisconsin prevented any further damage in the opening frame, but failed to respond with any runs in the bottom of the first. With Kelsey Jenkins on third and just one out, a grounder to second by Chloe Miller sent Jenkins home, but she was thrown out on a snap throw to keep Wisconsin off the board.After both teams exchanged empty frames in the second inning, the Huskers got back to business offensively in the top of the third. After a single from Dawna Tyson to load the bases up with one out, pitcher Kaylan Jablonski helped her own cause with a two-RBI single that extended the Nebraska lead to six. With two runners still in scoring position and just one out, Kylee Muir was able to send the ball deep enough into the outfield to drive in the inning’s final run on a sacrifice fly.Wisconsin’s last legitimate scoring opportunity of the afternoon came in the bottom of the third inning, after a Kelsey Jenkins walked and Miller got hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with two outs. Ashley Van Zeeland stepped up to the plate trying to put the first runs on the board for the Badgers, but a diving catch in foul territory by Nebraska’s Kiki Stokes ended the inning in an abrupt and highlight-worthy fashion.With Jablonski leading the charge for the Huskers, it was an afternoon dominated by Nebraska’s formidable offensive lineup and defensive prowess. While disappointed with the outcome, Wisconsin head Coach Yvette Healy believed it was more about Nebraska’s capabilities and sense of urgency as an NCAA tournament bubble team.“Top to bottom they’re stacked. They are an impressive program. I wouldn’t say it was us playing down as much as them playing up,” Healy said. “Our team is doing the most with their talent right now. So we’ve got the effort and the heart, I just think we were overmatched.”With two outs and the bases loaded for the Huskers in the top of the fifth, Armstrong drove in another run on an RBI grounder to left field to make the lead 9-0. Pasquale nearly found the gap in shallow left field to drive in her fourth run of the game, but Wisconsin’s Katie Christner ran it down with an impressive basket catch to retire the side.Entering the bottom of the frame, the Badgers needed to score at least two runs to avoid the eight-run mercy rule after five innings and keep the game going. Jablonski continued to show no mercy, however, mowing through Wisconsin to solidify the victory, the series sweep and the two-hit shutout performance.Wisconsin center fielder Maria Van Abel credited the Huskers’ pitching performances, especially from Jablonski, to the struggles the Badgers had offensively throughout the weekend.“She really worked her lanes, and she was really effective with her screwball to lefties. She mixed some curveballs, which kept us a little off balanced,” Van Abel said. “Nebraska is a really good team, and they’re facing great competition this year, so you can expect to see a good outing from their pitchers and they did a great job. Hats off to them.”Game 1The series opener, postponed after rain cancellation Friday, showcased an offensive clinic by the Huskers, bringing home nine runs in the first three innings against Stewart. Both teams displayed shoddy defense, as Wisconsin committed two errors and Nebraska had three of its own. Van Abel and Miller each had two hits for Wisconsin, but the Badgers’ lineup was no match for Nebraska, which had RBI’s from nine different players, including four from MJ Knighten in the 13-5 victory.Game 2A pitchers duel between Wisconsin’s Mariah Watts and Nebraska’s Jablonski showcased a low-scoring affair in the cold, windy weather with very little separating the two teams. A two-RBI single from Wisconsin’s Marissa Mersch in the bottom of the third marked the first runs of the game, but Nebraska slowly chipped away at the lead with one run each in the top of the fourth and fifth innings. Nebraska took their first lead of the game on a fielder’s choice to second base, which conceded the runner on third as Jablonski scored. With two more opportunities to get the equalizer, the Badgers came close in the sixth, but stranded Mersch on third. A one-two-three inning in the bottom of the seventh secured the 3-2 victory for the Huskers.The Badgers, now losers of five straight games, will take on Minnesota (41-8, 15-3 Big Ten) in a doubleheader this upcoming Wednesday at the Goodman Diamond.last_img read more