On Friday afternoon in Gainesville, Fla., the Wisconsin Badgers fell to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 2-1, in each teams’ opening game of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. In a close game like this, the margin for error is razor thin and in the third inning, Wisconsin committed the only error of the game which allowed the Jackets to score, what turned out to be, the game-winning run.
Final in Gainesville— Wisconsin Softball (@BadgerSoftball) May 20, 2022
Yellow Jackets 2#Badgers 1
UW will play either Florida or Canisius in an elimination game tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. CT#RoadToWCWS || #OnWisconsin pic.twitter.com/cbHH0M6Hf7
Georgia Tech was already up 1-0 heading into the bottom of the third, thanks to a Kennedy Cowden manufactured run in the second inning. Bailee Zeitler led off the third inning for the Jackets with a single and she ended up on second after an error by Ellie Hubbard at second base. The Jackets then moved Zeitler to third on a ground out and brought her home on a sac fly.
Through the first three innings, the Badgers had zero hits against Ga. Tech’s starter Blake Neleman (win, 15-8) but they still had their chances. They had two runners on base in the first inning thanks to a pair of walks and then had another runner on in the second after Neleman’s third free pass of the game. It’s worth noting that after issuing the second and third walks, Neleman struck out the next batter she faced each time to end the inning.
UW finally got the bats going in the fourth and, after Hubbard and Skylar Sirdashney recorded back-to-back singles, they looked to be cooking with gas. After pinch hitter Jolie Fish struck out looking, Lauren Foster laced a single into left field which brought home Hubbard. The Yellow Jackets LF bobbled the ball and when Sirdashney tried to advance to third, she got gunned down to end what could have been a big inning.
The #Badgers are on the board!@laurenfoster02 gets an RBI single with two outs in the top of the fourth!— Wisconsin Softball (@BadgerSoftball) May 20, 2022
UW 1 pic.twitter.com/YUqlKEYjcg
Wisconsin only ever threatened to score one more time in the game, in the top of the sixth, when Morgan Kummer walked and then stole second base with only one out. Hubbard struck out swinging and Sirdashney flied out to the top of the wall in left to end the inning. Seriously, if Sirdashney’s ball had been two feet deeper it would’ve been a two-run homer.
Neleman mowed down the Badgers in the seventh, with Ally Miklesh striking out looking on a full count to end it, to give the Yellow Jackets their first NCAA Tournament win since 2012.
The game between Florida and Canisius is in a lightning delay as I write this sentence, but the Gators are up 8-1 in the fourth. The Badgers will play the loser on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. CT and whoever loses that game will be eliminated from the tournament.
Key Wisconsin Performers
- Lauren Foster: 1-for-2, one walk, one RBI
- Morgan Kummer: 0-for-1, two walks
- Ellie Hubbard: 1-for-3, one run
- Maddie Schwartz (loss, 23-12): 6 IP, six hits, two runs, one earned run, two walks, two strikeouts