On the strength of two solid pitching performances, the University of Wisconsin softball team (19-11, 2-4 Big Ten) swept Big Ten co-leader Iowa (28-15, 4-2) for the first time in school history. Scores went 5-0 and 4-1.
In game one, hurler Letty Olivarez (6-5) stymied the Hawkeyes, winners of their previous 10 contests, by throwing a three-hit shutout, her third this season. It was the first time Iowa had failed to score a run in 15 games and just the third time the Hawkeyes had been shut out this season.
While the Hawkeye offense faltered in key situations, leaving nine runners on base, the Badgers came through in the clutch. Ricci Robben broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning with an RBI single up the middle, plating Sam Polito. Katie Hnatyk, who was intentionally walked to get to Robben, then scored on a base hit to right field by Stephanie Chinn to give Wisconsin a 2-0 lead.
In the fifth, Polito broke the game open with a line drive triple to left centerfield that scored Joey Daniels and Lynn Anderson. Polito went 3-for-4 on the day with three RBI and three runs scored. She now has 10 hits in her last 14 at bats and is hitting .344 this season.
Athena Vasquez completed the three-run fifth with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0. The five earned runs off Iowa starter Brittany Weil (11-2) were the second most she had give up all season. Weil entered the contest with a league-best ERA of 1.00, but issued four walks in game one and gave up three hits with runners in scoring position.
In game two, Eden Brock (10-6) struck out nine over seven innings to earn her 10th win of the season and second this week. An errant throw led to an unearned run in the top of the first inning and gave the Badgers a 1-0 lead.
The Badgers would score one run in each of the third, fourth and sixth innings with RBI by Hnatyk, Polito and Vasquez. Wisconsin improved to 15-1 when scoring first in a game and is now 15-0 when scoring four runs or more.
The Badgers, now 3-0 at home this season, will next host North Dakota State (22-17) in a doubleheader Tuesday. Game one will start at 4 p.m.
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