Badgers fly past Redbirds in both games of doubleheader

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin softball team opened its fall season with bang on Saturday, sweeping Illinois State 1-0 and 6-1 in a doubleheader at Goodman Diamond.

Sophomore Kelly Welsh led the UW offense with five RBI on the day, while junior transfer Brooke Wyderski scored two runs.

Freshman Kaitlyn Menz started in the circle in the first game of the doubleheader, facing only seven batters to make quick work of the first two innings. The Badgers struck in the bottom of the second inning when Welsh singled to bring in Wyderski for the 1-0 Wisconsin lead.

Wisconsin held off the Redbird offense for the remainder of the game despite a close call in the top of the fifth inning. A pop fly to right field gave ISU the opportunity to advance its runners, but a rocket from senior Chloe Miller beat the runner to home plate to preserve the Badgers’ 1-0 advantage.

UW outhit Illinois State 8-3 in game one, committing no errors, while Menz threw three strikeouts and a shutout to start the Badgers’ fall season. Freshman Kayla Konwent, two-time Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year, recorded a game-high three hits.

The Badgers wasted no time in game two, as junior Kelsey Jenkins stole home in the bottom of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead.

Wisconsin opened up its lead in the sixth inning, scoring five runs in the bottom of the frame. Junior Samantha Arents doubled to center field, bringing home senior Sara Novak to give the Badgers a 2-0 lead, before Welsh hit a homerun over left field to score Arents, Wyderski and freshman Jordan Little for a 6-0 lead.

The Redbirds were able to score a run in the top of the seventh inning, but the Wisconsin lead was too much to overcome. The Badgers outhit Illinois State 8-4 in game two.

Wisconsin continues its fall season in Chicago, traveling to face the University of Illinois-Chicago on Oct. 1 before meeting DePaul on Oct. 2. The first game of the doubleheader with UIC is set to start at 2 p.m.


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Edited by Kelli Grashel


Late inning rallies help Badgers to series split with OSU

It’s fitting that such a back-and-forth series between the Wisconsin softball team and the Ohio State Buckeyes ended in a 9-9 tie in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader.
The Badgers fell 10-8 in the first game despite a late rally in the fifth inning.

“Ohio State is in the top 25 for a reason,” UW head coach Yvette Healy said. “When you face a team like that and the wind is blowing the way it is, you know you just have to be in for a fight and that’s what I’m most proud of. I think our team just kept battling back and forth, they didn’t lose their head. The offense just kept firing back and even Taylor-Paige Stewart after one big inning where the ball was just kind of flying, then she put up four zeros pitching to shut down the last four innings so that’s awesome.”

In game one, Wisconsin fell behind 7-2 before scoring six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to capture the lead.

After the Buckeyes posted two runs in the top of the inning, Big Ten Freshman of the Week Melanie Cross led off the bottom of the fifth with a blast over the left field fence to make the game 7-3.

Two consecutive passed balls brought in the Badgers’ next run, advancing Samantha Arents to home plate to bring Wisconsin within three. On the next at-bat, Macy Oswald singled to center field, bringing in Kelly Welsh and Katie Christner.

Rounding out the scoring for the inning, Kelsey Jenkins hit a rocket over far left field to bat in Oswald and herself for a two-run home run and 8-7 Badger lead. Jenkins and Cross’ home runs tie a program record for most home runs in an inning, as the Badgers had back-to-back home runs on May 17, 2014 against Albany during the team’s postseason run.

Ohio State would go on to score three runs in the seventh inning to take the first game by a score of 10-8.

Oswald led the Badger with three RBI and her two hits tied with Jenkins for the team high. Three UW pitchers, Stewart, Mariah Watts and Kirsten Stevens, saw time, combining for 14 hits allowed, 10 earned runs and one strikeout each.

OSU started the second game strong, running out to a 4-0 lead through the third inning. But in a similar fashion, Wisconsin tallied five runs in their half of the inning to take a one-run lead.

Cross batted in two runs, recording her third home run of the weekend. Her sixth of the season, Cross ties Jenkins for the fifth-most home runs by a freshman.

Oswald followed up with an RBI single to left field, and Jenkins added two runs for the Badgers with a single right up the middle to give UW a 5-4 lead.

The Buckeyes responded with their own five-run inning, taking a quick 9-5 lead with three hits.

In the bottom of the fifth, Ashley Van Zeeland singled with a bunt and advanced by an error on the throw, bringing Oswald in for a run. Cross doubled to left field, adding two more runs to the Badgers’ score.

Another Van Zeeland bunt tied the game 9-9 in the sixth inning and allowed Brianna Flugaur to score the tying run.

Despite going into an extra inning, the game finished in a tie due to an end-time previously agreed upon by both teams.

Ties are rare in softball, so rare in fact that Coach Healy has only seen one before today in 607 games as a head coach.

“On paper they’re the top-25 team,” Healy said. “For us to go one win and one loss and then a tie, I think the advantage goes to us. I’m pretty happy, you always get greedy and want more but that’s an awesome effort by the Badgers.”

Cross registered a game-high four RBI in game two, while Oswald tallied three hits in five at-bats. Stewart threw 6.1 innings, throwing three strikeouts and allowing seven earned runs.


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Crossed Off: Badgers down Buckeyes with walk-off homer

Thanks to a walk-off home run by Big Ten Freshman of the Week Melanie Cross, the Wisconsin softball team won its home conference opener, 6-5, against Ohio State.

Down by two runs heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Badgers (18-13, 3-1 Big Ten) fought back to upset No. 24 Ohio State (18-7, 3-1 Big Ten). The victory was Wisconsin’s third win over a ranked opponent this season.

The last time Wisconsin met up with Ohio State, on April 20, 2013, a grand slam put the Buckeyes up 5-3 over the Badgers in the series opener, but a walk-off home run by Mary Massei won it for Wisconsin, 7-6.

“It’s been three years since we’ve seen Ohio State, and they’re tough,” UW head coach Yvette Healy said. “They’ve got a lot of ranked wins, they’re one of the best teams in conference for sure. We knew going in that we were the underdogs and we told them, ‘just play loose and have fun and you never know what could happen.’”

Wisconsin’s defense held the Buckeyes, who average 6.2 runs per game, scoreless through four innings. Junior Kirsten Stevens gave up only two hits in those four innings, while Samantha Arents had a season-high 11 putouts on the game. Shortstop Ashley Van Zeeland also earned a season-high seven assists.

“Kirsten threw a great game to start off with,” Healy said of her starting pitcher. “She kept them in check. Even though it was four runs, Ohio State averages six to seven runs a game, so she kept us in the game. Taylor-Paige Stewart came in and gave us a chance. We kept telling the team, ‘if we have a chance late, you never know what can happen.’ She was phenomenal, Kirsten really was too, she threw a great game.”

In the fifth inning, Ohio State’s Maddy McIntyre gave her team the 4-0 lead with a grand slam to left center field.

Wisconsin followed up in the bottom of the inning with four consecutive walks from Macy Oswald, Kelsey Jenkins, Ashley Van Zeeland and Chloe Miller, lifting the score to 4-1.

Van Zeeland batted in the Badgers’ second run with the bases loaded off of a single to shortstop in the sixth inning, allowing Kelly Welsh to score. Miller followed with a walk, advancing Cross to score and bringing the Badgers within one run, 4-3.

OSU widened the gap with a run in the top of the final inning off a single from Becca Gavin, but Wisconsin’s consistency at bat put Taylor Berry and Katie Christner on base when Cross took the plate. Arents started the inning with a leadoff double and with Berry in to pinch run, Christner was walked on a full count.

After striking out twice earlier in the game, Cross launched the ball over right field for the walk-off winner. Cross led the team with three RBI and two runs. The moon shot was her fourth of the season.

“Mel Cross has been clutch all this year, so I don’t think there could have been a better player up at that point,” Healy said of the freshman. “Our first win of the season was a comeback win against Cal, and she (Mel) had a big home run in that game. She was a great person to have up in that situation.”

Wisconsin had a season-high 11 walks, led by Jenkins with a team season-high three walks.

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Zymkowitz named assistant softball coach

Wisconsin softball head coach Yvette Healy announced the hiring of Danielle Zymkowitz as the program’s new assistant coach. Zymkowitz comes to Wisconsin after spending two years as an assistant coach for the University of Toledo softball program.

“I am very excited for this opportunity to be a part of the University of Wisconsin and the softball program,” Zymowitz said. “I have been fortunate enough to learn from so many great softball minds so far in my career, and I can’t wait to continue that while working with Coach Healy. My time playing in the Big Ten Conference was amazing, and I am excited to return now as a coach competing against the best every day.”

“We are thrilled to welcome former All-American Danielle Zymkowitz to the Wisconsin Softball coaching staff and the Wisconsin Athletics family,” Healy said. “Danielle’s character, energy, enthusiasm, ability to motivate others and creative approach to teaching the game makes her a rising star in the coaching profession. Coach Z’s playing roots and travel ball connections in the state of California will be critical to our program’s success.

“Beyond her West Coast recruiting ties, Danielle was a standout scholar-athlete in the Big Ten. She was an All-American at the University of Illinois, leading her team to two NCAA Championships. Danielle truly understands what it takes to be a successful student-athlete in our conference.”

Last season the West Hills, California, native helped Toledo to its first winning league record (12-11) in 19 years, as well as the program’s first Mid-American Conference tournament berth since 2013. Zymkowitz worked with the Rockets’ infielders, including junior second baseman Chandler Rice, who earned first-team All-MAC honors both years under Zymkowitz’s guidance.

Zymkowitz brings a wealth of experience as a player, holding program career records at the University of Illinois for batting average (.384), hits (277), runs scored (202), stolen base attempts (106), stolen bases (91) and stolen base percentage (.858). As a three-year captain and a member of the Illini Leadership Academy, Zymkowitz led her squad to back-to-back regional appearances. She was named a National Fastpitch Coaches Association third-team All-American as a sophomore and a senior, becoming the first two-time NFCA All-American in program history. She was also a three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection during her career.

While finishing her bachelor’s degree in communications, Zymkowitz began her coaching career as a student assistant for the Illini and then went on to earn her Master of Sports Administration while serving as an assistant coach at Farleigh Dickinson University.

Currently in her sixth professional season with the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch league, Zymkowitz earned a starting job in her first year with the Bandits at second base and a Rookie of the Year nomination after earning all-NPF honors. During her time in Chicago, the Bandits won the 2011 NPF Championship and the 2013 regular season championship. In the first half of the 2016 season, Zymkowitz leads the Bandits with 17 runs scored and two triples. She holds the second-highest batting average (.347) on the team tallying 13 RBI and 33 hits.

“As a current professional athlete in the NPF league for the past six seasons, Danielle has surrounded herself with some of the top athletes in our sport, learning from and training with the best softball players in the world,” Healy added. “In addition to her personal playing experience, Danielle has four years of Division I college coaching experience, earning her master’s degree while coaching. She is a true student of the game and person of extraordinary character and integrity. Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious.”


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