Life away from Madison has been wonderful for the Wisconsin Badgers softball program this season. Instead, of away game magic, controversy reigned in a 6-5 Oregon win in a NCAA softball regional.
With the Badgers needing just one out to put the Ducks away in the 8th, Wisconsin thought it had done the job. However, a play at the plate saw senior catcher Chloe Miller called for obstruction and the run to score, making it 6-5 Oregon in the lead.
Replays showed no obstruction, a clear tag by Miller and no touch of home plate by Oregon base-runner Miranda Elish. It was a tough decision to swallow, but far from the lone reason for the Badgers’ loss on Saturday afternoon.
Wisconsin appeared to be heading for the regional final, but it couldn’t hang on to a 5-2 lead with two innings remaining. Instead, Oregon plated the final four runs and will play the winner of Wisconsin and Missouri in the regional final tomorrow.
Miller sparked Wisconsin’s offense all season, and that didn’t stop on Saturday afternoon either. She smacked a two-run home run with the Badgers trailing 2-1 in the third inning to put Wisconsin on top 3-2.
Two innings later it was fellow senior Sara Novak helping the Badgers cause, smashing her own two-run home run to make it 5-2 to Wisconsin.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 20, 2017
However, the Ducks were the No. 3 seed for a reason and after UW pitcher Kaitlyn Menz went over the 100-pitch mark Oregon struck back. The Ducks started to get to Menz in the sixth inning, putting runners at the corners quickly and eventually getting a run home to make it a two-run game at 5-3.
The comeback was complete an inning later as UW allowed a pair of base runners to advance to second and third, followed up by a two-run double down the left field line by Shannon Rhodes.
Wisconsin’s batters had their chances, but couldn’t take advantage of Brooke Wyderski’s double with one out in the seventh inning nor a lead-off single in the eighth inning as well.
Menz pitched her second straight complete game, throwing 133 pitches and giving up nine hits and three earned runs. Wisconsin is going to have to come up big offensively in the nightcap, as Menz clearly won’t be available after pitching back-to-back complete games already.
The Badgers were able to advance in to the winners bracket last night, beating Missouri 7-2. It is loser goes home in the rematch though, while the winner will have to take two from Oregon on Sunday if they want to advance to the Super Regional next weekend.