Softball: Badgers, Cornhuskers to battle in Lincoln

Wisconsin (6-3 Big Ten, 28-6 overall) will take on No. 22 Nebraska (6-2, 28-8) this weekend in a three-game series in Lincoln, Neb.

The Badgers are looking to bounce back in the conference standings after a disappointing series against Minnesota, where they lost two of their three games.

Wisconsin was scheduled to play a doubleheader against Northern Iowa Wednesday for its home opener, but the games were cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

Senior pitcher Meghan McIntosh is eager to continue her recent dominance on the plate after pitching her second no-hitter of the season during Wisconsin’s 10-0 win over Minnesota.

“It gives me a lot of motivation going forward, knowing that I can hit my spots and get my outs, especially going into Nebraska, a really good team,” she said.

McIntosh, who was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season last week, is only the second pitcher in Wisconsin softball history to throw two no-hitters in a single season.

“It feels really accomplishing for me,” McIntosh said. “But I have to give a lot of credit to my defense and offense for backing me up in that game.”

Senior third baseman Shannel Blackshear also had a stellar performance in Wisconsin’s last win, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Although frustrating to some, the cancellation of the home opener has not affected Blackshear’s focus or motivation going forward.

“At this point, I’m used to being on the road because we haven’t gotten the opportunity to play at home, so it’s just a chance to go into Nebraska and play hard,” Blackshear said. “That’s where the conference tournament is at and they’re a great program, so to take some wins from them would be awesome.”

Head coach Yvette Healy recognizes the team’s desire to play games at Goodman Diamond, but notes it has plenty of experience dealing with cancellations this season.

“I think everybody is dying to play at home, but this is about the fourth game where we’ve had to work around the weather, so it’s kind of commonplace now,” Healy said.

Nebraska is a notoriously formidable home team, and its home record this season stands at 12-2. The Badgers are especially familiar with Nebraska’s home-field dominance and have experience overcoming that obstacle.

“We’re going into Nebraska as the underdog. Some teams have a really big home-field advantage, and they’re one of them,” Healy said. “Last year they had a crazy streak at home and we were able to steal one from them last year, and that was a big deal.”

The Huskers are also neck-and-neck with Wisconsin in the Big Ten. If the Badgers can take the series from Nebraska, it would undoubtedly be a huge boost not only to their conference standings, but also to their NCAA ranking.

“When you face a top-25, top-15 team, and you take even one game from them, it’s a huge deal,” Healy said. “If you take two from them, it’s a home run. But you have to take it one inning at a time. Every inning you can put a zero up against them, and every time you can score, you’re figuring something out.”

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