Wisconsin Badgers head to Purdue looking to get over .500 in Big Ten play

Wisconsin has struggled to open up Big Ten play, but the Badgers will look to gain some momentum this weekend on the road. 

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

After an exciting finish to last weekend’s home series against Iowa, Wisconsin (4-5 Big Ten, 25-7 overall) will look to build on early Big Ten success and come away with a couple victories against Purdue (16-27, 5-6) in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Badgers needed to win last weekend’s rubber match against Iowa to avoid dropping their first two Big Ten series of the year. They did just that in front of a crowd of more than 800 spectators.

Junior Brooke Wyderski wrapped up a fantastic weekend at the plate with her most important hit of the year, a walk-off double on an 0-2 count that scored junior Kelsey Jenkins in the 10th inning. Wyderski went 6-for-13 over the weekend, raising her average to .374 on the year. Freshman stud Kaitlyn Menz led the way from the mound, grabbing her 15th and 16th wins of the season against the Hawkeyes.

In her third appearance of the weekend Sunday, Menz threw all 10 innings. The Badgers’ ace struck out a season-high nine batters in the game, and allowed only six hits across 18 total innings of work over the weekend.

Wisconsin will need to keep the positive momentum going into West Lafayette, a place they have not been historically successful. The Badgers are 8-18 all time against Purdue away from home, and lost the last two games of last year’s series against the Boilermakers at home. Purdue features a solid offense, recording the fourth-most hits in the Big Ten thus far. The Boilermakers are led by junior outfielder Maya Hughes, who has a team-high .389 batting average and three triples on the year.

Purdue’s biggest threat on the mound is sophomore Kaitlynn Moody, who has a team best 3.35 ERA in 113 innings pitched.

One of the Boilermakers’ biggest strengths is their speed on the basepaths. Purdue has swiped a Big Ten leading 57 bases this season, but is going against a seasoned defensive catcher in senior Chloe Miller. While best known for her contributions from the batter's box, Miller has done a great job behind the plate as well, allowing only 11 stolen bases in her 32 starts.

The Badgers' offense will look to run through Miller this weekend, who was just named as a finalist for the National Player of the Year Award. Miller leads the team and is fourth in the nation with a .480 batting average. In addition to Miller, the Wisconsin lineup features a number of other offensive threats. Freshman Jordan Little, who continues to get better each series, will certainly be one to watch this weekend. The Badgers’ right fielder, who hit two homeruns in one game earlier this year against Northwestern, had five hits over the three games last weekend against Iowa.

The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, before the team plays a doubleheader Saturday afternoon. The Badgers have not struggled in back-to-back contests this year, boasting a 14-2 record when playing two games in one day.

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