TEMPE, Ariz.—The only thing that could match the constant noise of the jets departing
from Sky Harbor airport Friday evening, was the pop of Desiree Serrano's fastballs landing in the security of her catcher's mitt for strike after strike. Serrano, Arizona State's pitcher, struck out 10 Badgers in their 4-0 loss to the Sun Devils.
The Wisconsin softball team was fresh off a 6-3 win over Big Ten rival Iowa earlier in the day at the Louisville Slugger Classic Softball tournament hosted by Arizona State. The round robin tourney involved squads from Utah State, Illinois State, Iowa, Wisconsin and host ASU.
The start of the game was delayed for more than an hour-and a-half while the Sun Devils mounted a tedious rally, scoring six runs in their last two at bats against Utah State. For the casual fan, the last three innings of this game must have resembled the last two minutes of a football game. Huddles and time outs were the norm after each pitch, by the Aggies! The Badgers were forced to witness this comeback that was fueled by a monstrous three-run shot far beyond the centerfield fence by freshman Sun Devil Sharee Zaleski.
Starting pitcher freshman Eden Brock, was the victim of shoddy defensive play by the usually-stellar Badgers, who gave up two unearned runs in the third and fourth innings. The Badgers totaled four errors for the contest in all.
In the third inning junior shortstop Kris Zacher booted a routine groundball to open the inning for the Devils. After the next two hitters were disposed of, Brock was the unfortunate recipient of two scratch singles to produce the initial tally of the game, which gave the Devils a lead it would never relinquish.
In the fourth inning with a runner on first and one out, designated hitter Keri Pulcifer singled to centerfield with a runner on second base. Badger outfielder Anastasia Miller gunned the throw over the head of the cutoff and allowed a hung-up Pulcifer to advance to second base.
The next Devil batter dropped a squeeze bunt that had the Badger infielders out of position to make a play at any base and increased the lead to 2-0. In the fifth, Devils' freshman catcher Heidi Knabe put all doubts to rest with a bullet over the left field fence to increase the lead to three. In the seventh, another Badger error resulted in the final run for ASU to end the scoring and produce a 4-0 final result.
The story of the game however was Serrano, who didn't even need the power of "Joboo," the pagan idol used by namesake Pedro Serrano in the movie "Major League." She whiffed 10 Badgers in tossing a two-hit shutout while allowing only three base runners. Her powerful delivery and arm fanned everyone in the Badger lineup at least once with the exception of junior catcher Boo Gillette, senior outfielder Diana Consolmagno, and freshman pinch hitter Megan Missaggia, who all managed to get a bat on the ball each time up. Gillette and Zacher had two solid hits off Serrano, while sophomore first baseman Kaitlin Reiss was the only other base runner, with a fifth-inning walk.
The few bright spots included the slick fielding of infielders, sophomore Emily Friedman and freshman Athena Vasquez, who both came up with tough plays early in the game. Though their defense didn't show it tonight, it still looks like a strong point for the 2004 Badger team.
The Badgers were scheduled to continue play in the tournament with games against time-killing Utah State and Illinois State on Saturday, and again against Illinois State in a single contest on Sunday morning before heading home. This tournament provides the Badgers with a good indication of their ability to successfully compete against some of the top teams in college softball and a springboard for the Big Ten conference schedule.