first_imgIt took Badger bats five full innings to wake up Tuesday afternoon, but they eventually did, and the University of Wisconsin softball team came out ahead in their home opener, edging Loyola 7-6 at Goodman Stadium.Despite providing Loyola with a four-run cushion, leaving eight runners on base and committing four errors in the field, Wisconsin (16-7) was able to survive and hand the Ramblers their 12th loss of the year.While she was relieved her team managed to escape with a victory, head coach Chandelle Schulte was not at all satisfied with the Badgers’ overall performance.”It was a heck of a comeback,” Schulte said. “But I thought we really performed poorly in all aspects of the ballgame — offensively, defensively and pitching.”Senior pitcher Eden Brock has been a workhorse for UW all season, and through the first few innings it looked like this game would be no different. Brock rolled through the first three frames, but ran into trouble in the fourth.With one out, Loyola catcher Raven Gengler reached on an error by typically sure-handed shortstop Lynn Anderson. Gengler then stole second, and came around to score after a single to center that got by Sam Polito. Brock hit the next batter, but managed to get out of the jam with two consecutive strikeouts.Wisconsin matched the Ramblers in the bottom half of the inning with a run of their own. Joey Daniels walked, Alexis Garcia legged out an infield single and Daniels came around to score after a wild pitch and two consecutive walks. Momentum seemed to be shifting in Wisconsin’s direction, but when Brock returned to the circle for the top of the fifth, the floodgates opened.The Ramblers came out swinging, slapping three straight singles and taking a 2-1 lead. Brock then surrendered only her sixth home run of the season, a two-run blast off the bat of first baseman Kat Krause.That was enough for Schulte to call upon the bullpen and freshman hurler Letty Olivarez. Even though the game might have looked out of reach, Olivarez still had to shake off some butterflies.”I was a little nervous,” Olivarez said. “The girls were having a little trouble, and I just wanted to come in and help Eden out.”Olivarez got into a little trouble herself, giving up a double and an RBI single to second baseman Angie Funston, but she recovered, managing to strike out Loyola shortstop Lindsay O’Gean for the third out of the inning.With the Badgers down, 6-1, Schulte gathered her troops for a serious dressing-down.”You cannot just show up,” Schulte said. “If you show up you will lose every day, regardless of the score. You have to play with heart.”Evidently, all Wisconsin needed was for someone to light a fire under them. The Badgers exploded in the bottom half of the sixth, sending every player in the lineup to the plate and tagging Loyola for six runs on five hits.Daniels led off with a single and was doubled home on Ricci Robben’s smash to right-center. After Valyncia Raphael singled to right and Lynn Anderson drew a walk, Sam Polito stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. Polito, who had already committed two errors in the game, made everyone forget about her defensive play with a sharp single that brought UW within two. She moved to third on an Athena Vasquez RBI single and slid safely under the tag after a wild pitch from reliever Krista Crosson. With the score knotted at six, Alexis Garcia’s fielders-choice groundout brought in the go-ahead run.Polito’s two-out single proved to be the crucial at-bat of the frame, extending the inning and allowing the meat of Wisconsin’s order to do some damage. But for Polito, the at-bat also served as redemption for a less-than-stellar performance in the field.”I started out a little rough,” Polito said. “But I fed off of everyone else, and I realized I had to come up and do my job. Everyone else was doing well and 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.””Apparently, whatever I had to say really inspired them,” Schulte said of her pre-inning lecture. “They didn’t quit, and that’s the sign of a good team.”Olivarez returned to the circle for the seventh, and was able to slam the door, but not before raising the collective blood pressure of everyone in the stadium.With two outs and a runner on third, Olivarez hit Angie Funston and issued a walk to No. 8 hitter O’Gean. But before the Ramblers could get back to the top of the order, Olivarez decided enough was enough, blowing a fastball by third baseman Alexandra Trudnich to preserve the victory for UW.”I just wanted to make sure to hit my spots,” Olivarez said of her last-inning nail-biter. “I was going to try to get someone to pop it up or ground out.”They were aggressive. They were good hitters. So we just had to try and not put it over the plate.”Although UW was able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, Schulte expressed concern for what she felt was a tentative attitude at the plate.”We’re taking too many strikes,” Schulte said. “In a situation where we have our 3-4-5 hitters up, they’re throwing pitches for us to hit and we’re watching them. Those are times when you have to make things happen.”Right now we’re watchers and we’re not doers, and we’re working on that.”last_img