Team earns win in home opener with late-inning comeback

first_imgIn the first four innings of Tuesday’s softball game, the Wisconsin Badgers and Loyola Ramblers combined for just two runs on three hits.The Ramblers opened the floodgates in the fifth.With the game locked in a 1-1 tie, Loyola’s Stephanie Cihlar led off the inning with a bunt single back to University of Wisconsin pitcher Eden Brock. The next batter, left fielder Ellen Kresl, looped a base hit off Wisconsin shortstop Lynn Anderson’s glove.After both runners advanced on a double steal, designated hitter Ashley Mitchell hit a soft grounder that stopped dead just in front of the plate. Third baseman Ricci Robben came up to field the ball, but her throw to catcher Joey Daniels was wide, allowing both Cihlar and Kresl to score on the error and Mitchell to reach second base.The Ramblers were nowhere close to done, however. With Wisconsin yet to record an out in the inning, Loyola first baseman Katie Krause sent a shot deep over the left field fence for a two-run home run off of Brock. That pitch would be the Badger ace’s last, as she recorded five runs, four of which were earned.”I was just struggling a little bit,” Brock said. “It happens sometimes. The drop ball wasn’t working as well as it normally does.”Freshman Letty Olivarez entered the game for Brock and allowed one more run to score before finally getting Wisconsin out of the inning, trailing 6-1.”I was a little nervous because I knew everything was going really fast,” Olivarez said. “I just told myself to take everything slow. The girls were having a little bit of trouble, so I wanted to come help Eden out.”Staring at a five-run deficit that late in a game may be discouraging to most teams, but the Badgers did not let the disastrous fifth inning decide the game.”We had a little meeting out there, and apparently what I had to say really inspired them,” Wisconsin head coach Chandelle Schulte said. “I just said, ‘You have to play with heart, and you have to be aggressive.'”Although they were unable to respond in the bottom of the fifth after going three up, three down, Wisconsin came out swinging in the sixth.Daniels led off the inning with a base hit to the third baseman. After Alexis Garcia popped out to the shortstop, Robben smashed a double into the right-center field gap, scoring Daniels.Valyncia Raphael would reach base in the next at-bat, forcing Loyola coach Yvette Healy to take out pitcher Amy Solava.Theresa Boruta, the next batter for the Badgers, was robbed after hitting the ball sharply to the shortstop Lindsay O’Gean.With two outs and only one run scored in the inning, the Badgers continued to attack. Pinch hitter Liz Klemp walked to load the bases, setting up Sam Polito to drive in two runs on a base hit that hit off first baseman Katarina Krause’s glove.”I started out a little rough, but I fed off of everyone else,” Polito said. “I realized I had to come up and do my job and get it done. Everyone else was doing well, started hitting, and I realized it was my time to step up. … I just thought about putting the ball in play and hitting it somewhere hard.”Second baseman Athena Vasquez followed up with an RBI single, scoring Klemp. With the power-hitting Katie Hnatyk up next, Polito scored on a wild pitch by Solava, who had reentered the game for Loyola. The final run of the wild sixth inning came when Garcia, who was batting for her second time in the inning, hit into a fielder’s choice. O’Gean opted to throw to third base, failing to get Hnatyk out and allowing Vasquez to score and give the Badgers the run that would eventually decide the game.Errors nearly cost WisconsinErrors plagued the Badgers all game, as they finished with four. Polito had two, one of which was a dropped ball on a routine fly. Charging in for the ball, Polito threw her hat off and fought with the wind in her attempt to make the catch.”It’s a routine play that should be made,” Polito said. “I don’t know what happened. I just got in my own head and started thinking too much.”The center fielder redeemed herself after the drop, however, by firing the ball to home plate, where Ashley Mitchell was tagged out by Daniels.”I think after you make an error like that and you realize you’ve let not only your pitcher, but your team down. … You always try to do whatever you can to make the out,” Polito said. “I just had to come up and try to make up for what I did wrong.”Robben also was charged with an error in the fifth, as was Anderson, who was unable to bring in a ground ball hit to the shortstop.”Defensively, we struggled on routine plays,” Schulte said. “They weren’t even really challenging plays. We talked about that. We’re going to try to address it.”last_img

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