Badgers split home-opening doubleheader with Hawkeyes


MerschSpacer

Game 1: Iowa 4, Wiscconsin 1

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
 Iowa
2 0 0 0 2 0 0 4
 10 1
 Wisconsin
0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 7
1
 Pitchers
IP H R ER BB SO
W Massey (4-9) 7.0 7 1 1 2 6
L Darrah (10-8) 7.0 10 4 4 0 12
 Batting Leaders
 • Stephanie Peace: Two hits
 • Maria Van Abel: Two hits, one run
Game 2: Wisconsin 8, Iowa 4

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
 Iowa
0 0 1 0 3 0 0 4
 11 4
 Wisconsin
0 4 3 0 0 1 X 8 10 0
 Pitchers
IP H R ER BB SO
W Stewart (6-5) 7.0 11 4 4 2 4
L Starkenburg (3-3) 1.2 4 4 2 3 1
 Batting Leaders
 • Marissa Mersch: Four hits, four RBI
 • Stephanie Peace: Two hits
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March 28, 2014

Game 1 Box Score  |  Game 2 Box Score

MADISON, Wis.-- After weather forced a pushback of its Friday home opener, Wisconsin split its doubleheader against Iowa on Saturday, dropping Game 1 by a score of 4-1 before completing the day with an 8-4 victory at Goodman Diamond.

Iowa (8-15, 3-2) took the lead early on the Badgers in Game 1, using three hits in the top of the first to plate two runners. Brianna Luna led off the contest with base hit up the middle and scored on four-hitter Megan Blank’s bloop single into center field. Erin Erickson followed with double down the left field line to score Blank.

That would be all the Hawkeyes would need, as the Badgers (16-13, 2-3) mustered just one run in seven innings.

The Badgers scored their lone run thanks to aggressive running on the base paths. With runners on the corners, UW used a double steal as Maria Van Abel scampered home from third, dodging the tag of Iowa catcher Holly Hoffman to bring the Badgers within a run early on.

The Hawkeyes tacked on a few insurance runs in the fifth inning, as pitcher Kayla Massey registered her third home run in four games, blasting a no-doubter over the left field wall, and Erickson scored Blank on a sacrifice fly to center field.

 Fast Facts
• Mersch sets a career high in hits with four
• Darrah has a career-best 12 strikeouts
• Badgers look to win series against Iowa Sunday at noon

While UW trailed Iowa by just three in the hit column, the team received only two hits outside of its first three hitters, Stephanie Peace, Van Abel and Michelle Mueller—Megan Tancill being the only exception, gathering two hits batting in the nine-spot.

Cassandra Darrah notched 12 strikeouts in the loss—a career high—while not walking a batter and surrendering 10 hits.

“I just give the credit to Iowa,” UW head coach Yvette Healy said. “They were swinging the bat. Cassandra struck a ton of kids out, but they put the hits together. I think we have to look at ‘how do we space out their hits against their best kids and be a little sharper defensively?’”

Wisconsin did just that in Game 2.

Despite allowing 11 hits, pitcher Taylor-Paige Stewart spaced out the Hawkeyes’ base runners just enough to prevent them from stringing together any stretches of offense.

The Badgers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning, followed by a three-run third inning.

Marissa Mersch got Wisconsin on the board with a base knock to score Ashley Van Zeeland. Tancill quickly drove in another run, sending a base hit into center field. Mersch came around to score after Hoffman overthrew third base on UW’s double-steal attempt. Peace knocked in the inning’s final run on a single just out of the reach of a diving Blank.

Wisconsin used three-straight walks and a couple hits in the third to extend its lead.

Mersch finished with a career-high four hits in four at bats, scoring one run and four RBI. The junior designated player credits her success to pregame routine.

“Before the game we like to visualize ourselves doing something great,” Mersch said. “I just try to go up to bat, see the ball and hit the ball. I don’t try to do too much with it.”

On top of its 10 hits, UW capitalized on poor defensive play by the Hawkeyes and used a small ball mentality to keep the game in hand from the start.

“Small ball is really important to us,” Mersch said. “That’s something we cherish as a team. I think our team as a whole does a great job base running and stealing. If you can get a base ahead you’re going to have a better chance of scoring on a single or an error. We like to cause pressure as a team.”

Causing pressure is something the Badgers coaching staff has emphasized from the start and it’s beginning to show in the box score, as UW forced Iowa to commit five errors on the day—one in Game 1 and four in Game 2. But Healy recognizes that mental toughness is an area needing improvement moving forward.

“We’ve got a lot of youth out there,” Healy said. “We’re still making a lot of mistakes, a lot of mental mistakes. We didn’t have as many errors as you could see up on the scoreboard. I think there were probably six or seven mental errors. We’re just working on teaching the game and eliminating those errors and not beating ourselves.”

The Badgers look to take the weekend series on Sunday as the Big Ten foes face each other in a noon game at Goodman Diamond.

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