After sweeping the competition last weekend in Orlando and getting off to the best start in school history, the Wisconsin softball team (10-1 overall) will travel to the Golden State looking to continue its success against some top-caliber competition. The Badgers open up Thursday with a game versus Cal State Fullerton before playing in the Easton Invitational over the weekend.
Despite the difficulty of traveling halfway across the country and changing time zones, UW head coach Yvette Healy talked about the advantage of playing an exhibition game against Cal State Fullerton before starting tournament play Friday.
“It’s great experience for us to get to face [the Titans] before the tournament starts to kind of get our legs underneath us and get acclimated to the field,” Healy said. “We’re looking to get out on the dirt and get accustomed to the field before we kick off the tournament.”
Cal State Fullerton remains two games under .500 with a record of 6-8 but enters Thursday’s matchup with confidence after defeating then-No. 7 Missouri Saturday and No. 12 UCLA Tuesday.
Healy recognizes the importance of keeping her team focused against a Titans squad that has the ability to play tough against the top teams in the country despite not having the impressive record to show for it.
“Missouri is one of the best teams in the country so if you’ve got a win against them, that goes a really long way,” said Healy, the third-year coach. “It’s going to be a battle.”
The Badgers begin play in the Easton Invitational Friday with an afternoon matchup against No. 16 Stanford. The Cardinal are led by redshirt senior center fielder Sarah Hassman who, through 17 games, boasts a .352 batting average.
Wisconsin will match up against Cal State Fullerton Friday night to complete its set of games with the Titans.
The Badgers will take the diamond Saturday to play No. 8 California and CSU-Bakersfield. Wisconsin looks to change its luck against a Cal team that has handled UW in the past, defeating the Badgers in 10 out of 11 matchups. Wisconsin’s aggressive approach at the plate may be just what the team needs to knock off the Golden Bears.
“As a team we’re just trying to just hit the ball hard and put it in play and make things happen,” said senior first baseman Shannel Blackshear. “I think that’s big and what’s made us successful.”
Wisconsin will wrap up its weekend Sunday versus Cal Poly, a team UW has beaten twice in the three times they have met.
With such a challenging weekend of games, UW is presented with a great opportunity to pick up some quality wins and solidify itself as a team to look out for down the stretch.
“I think this weekend is really just going to be a test of character,” Healy said. “We’re really challenging our girls to take it one pitch at a time, one inning at a time, and one game at a time and hopefully put together a strong showing.”