Wisconsin heads to North Carolina for final tourney before conference play

In the last tournament before the  conference schedule begins, the Wisconsin Badgers (9-12 overall) will look to continue their momentum following last weekend’s success with five games in the College of Charleston Invitational in Charleston, N.C., starting Friday.

The Badgers won three games last weekend in the USF Under Armour Invitational in Tampa, Fla. Freshman pitcher Mariah Watts picked up two of the three wins for the team last weekend.  She and the other pitchers will have their hands full in this tournament with teams like College of Charleston (11-10) and New Mexico (12-9). 

Both these teams are scoring more runs per game than Wisconsin’s 4.19, as College of Charleston scores 4.81 per game and New Mexico scores 5.14 per game. College of Charleston also bats just under .300 as a team. Meanwhile, New Mexico has three batters with a batting average of over .400—senior infielder Gabrielle Stacey, junior outfielder Mariah Rimmer and pitcher Lisa Rodrigues. 

The Badgers’ best hitters, senior outfielder Maria Van Abel and junior infielder Ashley Van Zeeland, will also have plenty of challenges this weekend against a strong Furman (12-5) pitching staff. The Paladins’ have a team ERA of 2.82 and will look to take advantage of a sporadic Badger offense. Their strongest pitcher has been freshman Lindsey Bert, who has eight of the team’s 12 wins and an impressive ERA of 2.10.

The other two matchups that Wisconsin has are against struggling teams Marist (4-5) and Memphis (6-8). Both teams are not as productive on offense as the Badgers, averaging approximately 0.5 fewer runs per game. Additionally, the Red Foxes and Tigers both have poor ERAs, each more than one full run higher than Wisconsin’s 3.62, with Marist posting a 4.88 ERA and Memphis a 5.07 ERA.

With the Badgers’ mediocre record, this weekend’s tournament could be a crucial turning point on the season. A few wins could give them additional momentum heading into the Big Ten conference schedule. But a poor showing that comes with a handful of losses could put Wisconsin in a difficult position to climb back into NCAA Tournament contention. 

The Badgers will begin the College of Charleston Invitational Friday at 4:30 p.m. against Furman.

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