McIntosh strong in the circle as Wisconsin defeats UNC to advance
EUGENE, Ore. -- Facing their second elimination game of the day, the Badgers were not ready to see the season come to an end Friday evening.
Wisconsin defeated North Carolina, 6-2, at Howe Field in Eugene, Ore. to advance to the NCAA regional title game on Saturday. The Badgers will play No. 3 Oregon at 2 p.m. CT.
"Elimination day is so hard," said head coach Yvette Healy. "They [UNC] were coming off a loss and we were coming off a win. That means a lot to a program like us. We said on elimination day it's all about here, it's all about guts, its grits its heart. And that's one thing I think we have a lot of."
The Badgers (44-12) rolled into the game against UNC, fresh off a 6-0 win against Brigham Young.
Mary Massei led off the game with a single and worked her way around the bases before scoring on a fielder's choice by Michelle Mueller.
North Carolina (40-21) evened the score in the bottom of the second, scoring one run on a pair of hits, but the Badgers were not done.
With two outs in the top of the third, Mueller reached first after being hit by a pitch. A single by Whitney Massey moved Mueller into scoring position, setting the table for Marissa Mersch. Mersch doubled to score Mueller and Massey came home on an error by the UNC left fielder to give UW a 3-1 lead.
Wisconsin's offense lit up the scoreboard again in the top of the fifth, scoring three runs on two hits and a UNC error to take a 6-1 lead.
UNC's Amber Parrish hit a solo shot over the right field wall in the bottom of the sixth, but that was as close as the Tar Heels would come to the Badgers.
Meghan McIntosh went the distance, pitching 7.0 innings to get her 13th win of the year. McIntosh allowed two runs on five hits and struck out six. McIntosh, a senior lefty, did not give up any walks.
Healy knows strong pitching is key to the Badgers' tournament run.
"If you want to make a run in a tournament like this, you have to have two really strong pitchers and we are lucky to say we do," said Healy.
"We are kind of a special group, that we haven't rode one horse all year. We've had a lot balance up and down the lineup. Hitters, catchers and pitching especially. Everyone has been talking a lot about Cassandra Darrah all year, But, Meghan McIntosh has really been the unsung hero."