In a show of sportsmanship, Maryland’s seniors presented Wisconsin’s four seniors with flowers ahead of the start of the final regular season series for both teams.
Friday’s good-vibes pregame ceremony honoring the seniors didn’t foreshadow the tough ballgame that followed which ended in a 8-3 win for the Badgers.
Hannah Dewey started in the circle for the Terps, facing a quick Badgers lineup.
In the top of the first with two outs, two strikes and a runner on third, Hannah Dewey pitched to Sara Novak. Novak swung, her bat connecting with the ball and sending it right towards Dewey. She reached for it, but it bounced out of her glove and Wisconsin made it on the board first.
After a swift offensive start, the Badgers kept it up defensively. Skylynne Ellazar, at the top of the Terps lineup, grounded out to start. Although Amanda Brashear drew a walk, quick work in the infield stopped a hard Anna Kufta hit. Kufta’s liner slipped by the first baseman but Kelsey Jenkins at second snagged it to put Kufta out at first.
With two outs, all it took was it a fly out from Dewey to end the first inning.
“There were a few swings where we were swinging at pitches that were not in our strike zone,” said head coach Julie Wright.
Back in the circle again, Dewey forced a groundout to start. Although a fielder’s choice got another out for the Terps, it allowed Gabby Scherle to reach first. The batter behind her was hit by Dewey’s pitch and, with two on and two outs, Dewey forced another groundout to end the inning.
The Badgers made their second two-out run in the top of the third. Back-to-back doubles from Sara Novak and Stephanie Lombardo gave Wisconsin a 2-0 advantage.
But, their lead didn’t last for long.
“I feel like we got outside of ourselves a little bit,” Wright said about the team’s struggle scoring.
In the bottom of the third, Wisconsin continued with more impressive infield work to get two outs. Juli Strange, batting first in the frame, hit a grounder between first and second. First baseman Stephanie Lombardo dashed to grab the ball and slid into first to get the out. On the next play, Ellazar hit a hard liner to the left. Shortstop Brooke Wyderski reached for it, barely making the catch to get the out.
With two outs, Amanda Brashear singled. Then, power hitter freshman Anna Kufta stepped up to the plate. She hit a home run that bounced off of the left foul post and tied the game.
“I’ve been really proud of the work she’s been putting in,” Wright said about Kufta. “We’ve been coming off of road trips and she’s been coming in here and hitting… Wednesday night she was out here hitting.”
Wisconsin responded to Maryland’s offense in the next frame. Two RBI singles from Jordan Little and Brooke Wyderski scored two more runs for the Badgers to lend them the same advantage that they had an inning before.
With the score at 4-2, Wisconsin’s infield worked fast in the bottom of the fourth to maintain the lead. Seniors Dillard, Calta and Aughinbaugh grounded out in order.
In the top of the fifth, the Badgers continued an offensive blitz that eventually won the game. A Maryland error helped to give Wisconsin the advantage needed to add three unearned runs with an RBI single and a two-RBI double.
The Terps responded with a single run in the bottom of the fifth, but despite loading the bases, they were unable to add any more. The Badgers consistent fielding helped prevent more runs from a Maryland lineup that looked like it was getting hot.
Neither team added runs in the sixth, but a Little home run added another run for the Badgers in the top of the seventh to make it 8-3.
Despite Brashear reaching on a fielder’s choice, a big hit from Kufta resulted in a fly out to end the game.
The loss ends any chance of the Terps playing in the postseason Big Ten tournament. They needed to sweep this weekend (and have Purdue and Rutgers both lose all three of their games) in order to clinch a twelfth seed.
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