The weather in north central Florida was not ideal for softball on Saturday. The first game of the day, between Georgia Tech and Florida, was delayed multiple times due to rain and so the Badgers had to wait. And wait. And wait. Finally the weather cleared and the Gators took care of the Yellow Jackets to advance to the regional final, which meant Wisconsin and Canisius could take the field.
Originally scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. CT, the first elimination game of the Gainesville Regional didn’t actually get going until just after 9 p.m. CT.
(Still) waiting for our turn at the dance pic.twitter.com/h90607DKys— Wisconsin Softball (@BadgerSoftball) May 22, 2022
Gabi Solo got the start in the circle for Wisconsin and pitched an efficient four innings, scattering five hits and giving up zero runs. The only time she was in a little trouble was the third inning where Canisius runners advanced to second and third following a wild pitch, but Solo got the next batter to fly out to right field to end the threat.
The Badgers also got a runner into scoring position in the third following an Ellie Hubbard single and Kayla Konwent walk, but could not do anything further. In fact, the Badgers only had one hit through the first four innings against Megan Giese (6.0 IP, four hits, four walks, six strikeouts).
Wisconsin turned to the bullpen in the fifth inning and Tessa Magananimo continued to keep the Golden Griffs off the scoreboard, pitching 1.2 scoreless innings and only allowing one base runner while striking out one. However, all the pitching in the world wasn’t going to make a difference unless the UW bats got going.
Enter Peyton Bannon.
Leading off the bottom of the fifth, Bannon took Giese deep over the left field fence to give Wisconsin a 1-0 lead. The Badgers couldn’t tack on any more runs but had finally given their pitchers a lead to work with.
In the top of the sixth, Christie McGee-Ross singled for the Griffs (her third hit of the night) and then advanced to second on a sharply hit ball to shortstop which resulted in the batter reaching first safely as well. However, UW manager Yvette Healy challenged the play at second as it appeared that McGee-Ross came up short on her slide and was actually out.
After a lengthy review (a process that is not yet allowed in Big Ten games) the umpires, correctly, ruled that McGee-Ross was out. UW then brought in ace Maddie Schwartz to pitch, and she immediately struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Wisconsin added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a Molly Schlosser double that plated Fiona Girardot and Lauren Foster, but Schwartz didn’t even need those insurance runs as she set the Griffs down in order to earn the save and allow UW to play another day.
Saturday night’s game marked the fourth time UW has posted a shutout in an NCAA tournament game and the first since blanking UIC, 2-0, in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. It was also the 12th time UW has won an NCAA tournament game and its first win since the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
The Badgers will now play Georgia Tech, in a rematch of their first tourney game, on Sunday in another elimination game at 9 a.m. CT in the Gainesville Regional.
::looks at clock::
Holy crap, that’s in, like, 20 minutes!
Key Wisconsin Performers
- Peyton Bannon: 1-for-3, one HR, one run, one RBI
- Molly Schlosser: 1-for-3, one double, two RBI
- Maddie Schwartz (S, 1): 1.1 innings pitched, two strikeouts
- Tessa Magnanimo (W, 2-2): 1.2 innings pitched, one hit, one strikeout