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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Cassandra Darrah

Softball: Badgers look to bounce back at home against UW-Green Bay

The Wisconsin softball team (7-5 Big Ten, 29-8 overall) will return home Tuesday afternoon for the first time this season. The Badgers will battle in-state rival UW Green Bay (9-18 overall) in a double-header beginning at 3 p.m.

Tuesdays games mark the first of a seven game home stand, providing cooperation from the so far inconsistent Wisconsin Spring weather. “It’s great to be home,” head coach Yvette Healy said in Monday’s press conference. “I’m sure the ice fishermen aren’t happy, but the softball team is thrilled to be back in Madison, and we’re excited to get seven in a row [at] home right now. So that’s our focus.”

UW is coming off of back-to-back series losses to Minnesota and No. 22 Nebraska after starting the season off hot. Nonetheless, Healy is optimistic about the team’s performance thus far. “The last two weekends have been tough,” Healy said. “To take one game at each of those on paper doesn’t look great, but we were thrilled to take one from Nebraska.”

Green Bay is not off to the best start, but like Wisconsin, have had some tough non-conference matchups, including a close game against No. 4 Alabama. UW-GB also played another Big Ten team in Illinois and lost 3-6. The Badgers swept Illinois in a three game series earlier this year in Champaign.

Offensively, the Phoenix’s top performers are all freshman in Marissa Michalkiewicz, Kelli Hutchinson and Alyssa Johnson. Michalkiewisz, the Appleton, Wis., native is currently batting .375 and is also leading the team with 15 RBIs.

Close behind, Hutchinson is batting .303 while Johnson is at .300. Shutting down this young trio of offensive performers will be vital for UW’s success     Tuesday afternoon.

As for Green Bay’s pitching, the Badgers will have to be prepared for whatever is to come. Unlike many teams Wisconsin has faced this year, UW-GB does not have a stand out pitcher. They have four different pitchers that have all had around the same degree of success. Senior pitcher Allison Goecks leads the Phoenix in outings and has recorded a 4-6 record, while sophomore Lauren Danner leads the team with a 2.30 ERA.

Whoever the Badgers see on the mound, they will have to produce runs. In four of Wisconsin’s last six road games, it has been held to two runs and under. UW will look to rekindle the spark behind the plate that they had early on in the season.

According to Healy, hitting has been an important piece to their success so far. “The offense has done a nice job. We’ve got some lefties in the lineup that are giving us a nice boost, good strategy.”

Wisconsin junior outfielder Mary Massei currently leads the team in hitting with an outstanding .430 batting average and 28 RBIs.

The Badgers stellar pitching will continue to play a crucial role in the team’s success in the upcoming home stand. Green Bay will undoubtedly see action from UW’s top upperclassmen pitchers junior Cassandra Darrah and senior Meghan McIntosh.

Wisconsin currently stands in fifth place in the Big Ten conference as they head into Tuesday’s game.

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