The Wisconsin softball team’s doubleheader against Valparaiso (11-40-1) Tuesday saw two UW records fall as the Badgers (27-21) wiped the slate with a clearly outmatched Crusader squad.In the second game of the twin bill, Karen Gallagher’s squad turned in a record-setting performance at the plate. When the dust settled, the Badgers had hit five homeruns, eclipsing the UW record of four, set against North Dakota State April 18.But that did not prevent the Crusaders from giving Wisconsin a little scare. Both pitchers cruised through the first inning, each retiring the first three batters they faced. But in the top of the second, Badger pitcher Katie Layne ran into some trouble.Crusader third baseman Taylor Callahan chopped a grounder to Kris Zacher at shortstop, who bobbled the ball before sending a late throw to first. Boo Gillette then fielded a bunt by the next batter, but her throw was late getting to second. With two runners on, the Crusaders bunted again. This time the throw was bobbled at first, and two lead runners came around to score, putting Wisconsin in an early 2-0 hole.The Badgers were quick to respond to the Crusader threat. Daniels popped up a ball that should have been caught by Valparaiso second baseman Alicia Ashburn, but the freshman was unable to make the play and Daniels reached safely. Anastasia Miller took her cue and rocked a Chris Halstead pitch over the left-field fence to tie the game. Natalie Phillips followed that immediately with a homer of her own, her first of the season, and the Badgers took the lead 3-2.Layne cruised through the top of the third inning, and the Badgers again took advantage. With Gillette on base, Daniels doubled to center. A Miller fly out scored Gillette from third, and Phillips came to the plate. She sent yet another ball over the fence in left field for her second homerun of the game — after going homerless all season. The round trip gave the Badgers a 6-2 lead, one they would not relinquish.“Those were my first two homers all year,” Phillips said. “They might as well come at the same time.”In the Wisconsin half of the fourth, another Badger got her first homer of the season. Athena Vasquez, whose bat has come alive of late, went deep to center field to put the Badgers ahead 7-2. The long ball was only the third of her career.“I was feeling it the whole game,” Vasquez said. “I just put my body into it. I wasn’t just hitting with my hands.”Layne settled into her game with the comfortable lead her team had built for her in the third inning, and she went the distance, giving up only two hits and two runs on the night.The Badger bats lay dormant for an inning until the bottom of the sixth, when Zacher sent a frozen rope to center field that cleared the fence by at least 10 feet with two runners on base. The homer ended the game early by way of the mercy rule and broke the team record for homeruns in a game.Also breaking a UW record in the game was Miller, who got her 35th RBI of the season, breaking Gillette’s single-season mark set a year ago.“I don’t really go up there thinking about stats,” Miller said. “I don’t know my batting average or anything like that. I just go up and try to move the runners when they need to be moved.”The top half of the twin bill was a blowout. The Badgers lit up the scoreboard, putting the match out of reach early.In the first inning, Wisconsin quickly loaded the bases on Halstead. After catcher Boo Gillette popped out, Halstead walked Joey Daniels, scoring Zacher. Later in the inning, a fly out from Miller scored Sam Polito.The second inning only got better for Wisconsin. The Crusaders made their first pitching change of the game after the Badgers loaded the bases, opting for senior Brittany Atteberry. She fared no better than Halstead, as the Badgers scored three more runs to go up 5-0.The Badgers broke it open in the third, as Gallagher’s squad piled on the runs. The Badgers scored six runs on four hits, including a triple by Daniels. It wasn’t until the Crusaders’ second pitching change of the game that the Badger bats began to settle down.Meanwhile, Eden Brock was pitching a gem. The UW ace was perfect through three innings until Megan Carroll broke through in the fourth with a bloop over first base that just tipped off the end of the glove of second baseman Kaitlin Reiss.The Crusaders broke up the shutout when Emily Tkaczyk singled to left to score Carroll. But with the lead already 11-1, the Crusaders didn’t have enough to make a comeback. The game ended by way of the mercy rule in the top of the fifth inning.Brock gave up only one run in the game on four hits, with six strikeouts and no walks.
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TRAINER QUOTES TYLER BAZE, FEATHERED, SECOND: “I really didn’t know her, so I watched replays of her races and it looked like she tried hard and never quit in her races and that’s how she ran today. If we could’ve gotten a breather somewhere in the middle of the race, I think maybe we could’ve won today.” -30- HARRY BEDERIAN, PART-OWNER, SPANISH QUEEN, WINNER: “We’ve been partners, Jack and I, almost 20 years.“I didn’t even realize his saddle slipped. We didn’t want to see that! She’s unbelievable. I’ve never had a Grade I winner so I’m still not sure it’s reality, especially when we saw the 4-5 odds on her. As you can see, I’m all sweaty, I was shaking I was so nervous.”NOTES: Today is Baltas’ 54th birthday. The winning owners are Harry Bederian of Lancaster; Harout Kamberian of Northridge; and Hagop Nakkashian of Chatsworth. RICHARD BALTAS, SPANISH QUEEN, WINNER: Asked if she was a bit fresh going by the first time: “No, she’s never run down the hill, she’s always been really keen and coming down that hill she might have been a little more. It was a great ride by Brice. He saved ground, she had to earn it and she got it done. Brice has been on her every breeze; he’s gotten to know her really well. She’s not very big but she’s got a big heart and she’s a lovely filly.“It was a pretty big deal when Big Macher won the (Grade I) Bing Crosby (Stakes last July at Del Mar), but I was never favored in the Grade I race like I was today with Spanish Queen. There’s so much pressure, and when you win, there’s a big sigh of congratulations and relief. This is a very special horse and I just got lucky to get her. This is the best birthday present I could ever have.” BRICE BLANC, SPANISH QUEEN, WINNER: “My saddle slipped a little bit and it affected my steering because she was a little aggressive when that happened. The more I pulled on her, the more the saddle moved forward so I was a little . . . I wouldn’t say out of control but I had to give and take a little bit more so it wouldn’t move any further on me. I finally got her to slow down. It shifted forward on me again once I made the lead. I’m tall and she’s little so that made it a little difficult.“She’s just eating up the ground and getting better with every race. She keeps improving and she loves her job. She has started trusting me more so I can do a little more with her. I think she’s learning how to be a good racehorse.“I was loaded on the backstretch. She looks like she’s on the bridle all the time but she does it in a way that she’s actually relaxed; it’s hard to explain. She’s on the bridle but waiting for me to ask her to pick it up. She does it in a way that doesn’t affect her breathing and she does it nicely; that’s why she’s able to accelerate like she does the second part of the race.” JOCKEY QUOTES