The early season tournament tour will continue in California for Wisconsin (7-7) when the Badgers head to Fullerton for the Judi Garman Classic Friday.
The first month of UW’s season featured tournament play in Florida and Texas. Wisconsin looks to build on its 3-2 showing at the Texas A&M Invitational in College Station, Texas, Feb. 28-March 2.
Senior right fielder Mary Massei will look to extend her hot start from the leadoff spot in the Badgers’ lineup. Massei has a team-leading 19 hits and is tied with Chloe Miller and Stephanie Peace for the most home runs on the team with four.
Despite Massei’s start, Wisconsin will need more production offensively in order to tip its record over .500. Pitchers Taylor-Paige Stewart, Cassandra Darrah and Sara Novak have a combined 2.88 ERA, but the Badgers have scored three or less runs in nine of their first 14 games.
Stewart was named the Big Ten pitcher of the week last week. In 38 innings pitched, Stewart has 33 strikeouts, allowing 15 earned runs with an ERA of 2.76.
This weekend’s tournament schedule pits the Badgers against a trio of top ten teams. Wisconsin will play No. 8 Arizona and No. 6 Washington Friday, and will take on No. 7 Arizona State Saturday. The Badgers also match up against Long Beach State (11-6) Saturday and Cal State Fullerton (12-7) Sunday.
Arizona (20-1) will prove to be a tough test for the Badgers’ pitching. The Wildcats have outscored their opponents 186-17 behind a strong opening month from sisters Kelsey and Courtney Rodriguez, who top their team in batting average.
Washington (16-2) and Arizona State (20-3) have also benefitted from extensive early season tournament schedules and will provide a challenge for the Badgers as they continue to work out the kinks in their 2014 campaign.