Fresh off starting a six-game home stand with a win against Bradley, the Wisconsin softball team (12-6 Big Ten, 31-15 overall) squares off against in-state rival Green Bay (10-11 Horizon League, 21-23 overall) for a doubleheader Wednesday afternoon. Wisconsin leads the all-time series 24-9-1, including 15-6-1 at Goodman Diamond.
“Green Bay is really tough and they’re fiery,” head coach Yvette Healy said following last night’s game. “We just want to see a little more sense of urgency and excitement about those games tomorrow.”
Healy said she plans on utilizing all three pitchers who have appeared in games this year (sophomore pitcher Cassandra Darrah, junior pitcher Meghan McIntosh and sophomore pitcher Amanda Najdek) for the pair of games tomorrow.
“You should see all three,” she said. “I think with Green Bay it’s a tough opponent and we’re up for the challenge.”
The trio of Wisconsin starters will have to watch out for Green Bay sophomore outfielder Miranda Reinke, who leads the team at the plate with a .339 batting average. The Phoenix lineup also carries three other players above the .300 mark.
The Wisconsin offense should expect to see either Green Bay junior pitcher Allison Goecks or Green Bay sophomore pitcher Ashley Nannemann in the circle tomorrow, as the two have earned decisions in 40 of the team’s 44 games this year. Goecks has posted an ERA of 3.15 with a 9-10 record, while Nannemann is 11-10 with a 3.43 ERA.
After losing to Purdue in a three-game set this past weekend, the Badgers have been putting in extra work on their own.
“We had an off day [Monday]," junior second baseman Whitney Massey said. "But people were still out here hitting and just making sure to get done what they needed to get done.”
Considering the Badgers' position in the Big Ten standings and the upcoming NCAA Tournament, putting in some extra reps like they did Monday comes as no surprise.
The Badgers were No. 46 in the NCAA Softball RPI entering Tuesday. Sixty-four teams reach the championship tournament, but when the Badgers’ tough remaining schedule is taken into account, the Badgers may have to worry. The Badgers play host to Big Ten-leading Michigan this weekend for a three-game series and travel to second-place Nebraska the following weekend. Michigan holds a 13-5 league record, while Nebraska sits a half game ahead of the Badgers at 12-5.
Some players, though, are embracing the pressure of the upcoming schedule.
“The atmosphere is great,” sophomore first baseman Michelle Mueller said. “We’re working hard because we’re so close and we all want it. We’re doing extra work, talking to coaches, watching film and you can just feel us being anxious to get [to the tournament].”
First pitch against the Phoenix is scheduled for 3 p.m.