Wisconsin splits doubleheader with Loyola

first_imgJennifer Krueger was 4-for-4 at the plate in the first game of Wisconsin’s doubleheader Thursday.[/media-credit]Wisconsin entered Thursday’s doubleheader against Loyola on a two-game losing streak, having lost four of its last five games. The Badgers got their win in the first game, 9-4, but split the doubleheader after being shutout 4-0 in the second game.For first-year head coach Yvette Healy, it was not just any opponent she was facing on a cold Thursday night. Healy spent 11 years coaching Loyola prior to coming to Madison, but this game was more about the skill of the opponent, not the storyline.“When you’re facing a team at the top of their conference, you know you’re going to get a battle like that,” Healy said. “Of course it was an emotional game, but I think it was more emotional for them [Loyola] than it was for me.”In the first game, it was neck-and-neck for the first four-and-a-half-innings. Heading into the bottom of the fourth, the Badgers trailed 4-2, but the deficit didn’t last long. Infielder Stephanie Peace hit a triple to left-center to bring home the first of five runs in the inning for Wisconsin.Karla Powell hit a solo shot – her seventh – in the third inning and was intentionally walked by Loyola in the fifth inning, which proved to be a vital mistake. The next batter, Shannel Blackshear, connected on a two-run homer to make the score 7-4.The Badgers would go on to shut out Loyola for the remaining three innings and added two more runs in the sixth inning to record their 16th win of the season.In the second game of the doubleheader, Wisconsin was unable to take advantage of early opportunities, leaving runners in scoring position. The Badgers left bases loaded for the first two innings in a row, something that has been a problem for Wisconsin all season long, as it left a total of 18 runners on base in a doubleheader against Penn State.“We’ve been leaving a lot of runners on base lately,” Krueger said. “We just need someone to step up and be big in that situation.”“I think sometimes it’s a mental thing,” Healy said. “They just have to be looser. I can see this team maybe pressing and getting a little tense. We’re all trying to lighten the mood and let them be excited about it but not stressed about it.”Pitcher Cassandra Darrah, who has exceeded expectations with her 10-3 record as a freshman, entered the top of the fifth inning with a no-hitter. However, it was Loyola’s turn to build a late scoring run. In the fifth and sixth innings combined, Darrah gave up two home runs, a solo shot by Lauren Zaworski and a three run homer by Jenna Grimm.Outfielder Jennifer Krueger, however, continued to be a bright spot for this Badger team. She finished the double-header 6-for-6 with three runs and three stolen bases. She extended her stealing streak to a school-record 11 games.“If you’re fast, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense,” Krueger said.Krueger is becoming accustomed to streaks, as she also compiled a 19-game hit streak earlier in the year.“I’m just really confident this year,” Krueger said. “I know if I put the ball in play that I’ll beat it out and get on base.”“It was a phenomenal offensive day for her,” Healy said. “It’s great to see a local Wisconsin talent like her do so well. She is doing her job, and now we just have to find ways to start hitting her in.”The Badgers were unable to put together another run as they were shut out 4-0. While Darrah gave up two home runs in the game, it was the lack of scoring that proved most significant.“We just need work on getting key hits,” Darrah said. “We leave too many people on base, so that’s our main goal going forward.”After getting off to their best start since 2007, the Badgers hope the second game will be a minor speed bump moving forward.“We should have had two wins there,” Krueger said. “We just know that we can play with anyone, any day, so we just have to keep working hard and have fun.”last_img read more