Haley Hestekin struggled in the early going Saturday, but the sophomore more than made up for it with her strong finish.
Hestekin didn’t allow a run over the final five innings and sophomore Taylor Johnson drove in the winning run with a sixth-inning triple as the University of Wisconsin softball team rallied for a 5-4 victory against Nebraska at Goodman Diamond to even the Big Ten Conference series at a game apiece.
Hestekin allowed four runs — three earned — over the first two innings, leaving the Badgers (37-11, 14-8 Big Ten) facing a 4-1 deficit.
UW scored twice in the fourth inning on run-scoring hits by sophomore Lauren Foster and freshman Ally Miklesh. The Badgers pulled even with the Cornhuskers (21-29, 9-13) in the sixth inning by scoring a run on a throwing error following junior Kayla Konwent’s infield single, and Johnson’s triple to right field sent Konwent home with go-ahead run.
Hestekin (16-4) scattered four hits — three singles and a double — over the final five innings to record her eighth complete game of the season.
The Badgers, who are assured of finishing in fifth place in the Big Ten standings, are scheduled to close the regular season against Nebraska at 10 a.m. Sunday before beginning play in the conference tournament on Thursday in Bloomington, Indiana.
Senior Sara Castellano and sophomore Lexi Keberle won at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively, in the Badgers’ 4-2 loss to Syracuse in an NCAA tournament opener in Palo Alto, California.
The Orange (14-12) won the doubles point, then received a pivotal 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory by Miranda Ramirez over sophomore Anna Makarova en route to ousting the Badgers (18-6), whose previous appearance in the NCAA tournament was 2005.
Castellano, who is ranked No. 88 nationally, upset No. 14 Gabriela Knutson 6-3, 6-2.
UW’s varsity eight boat finished in 5 minutes, 53.78 seconds for a 2.5-second victory to spark the Badgers to a sweep of Holy Cross on the Charles River in Boston.