After ending the 2019 season 43-19 — the second-most wins in program history and the fastest team to reach 30 wins ever for Wisconsin — Badger softball came into the 2020 season looking to write more stats in the history book. With 13 returning players and some fresh new faces, Wisconsin (10-9 overall) began the season with a hopeful outlook.
The most notable returning player is senior first baseman Kayla Konwent, who won 2019 Big Ten Player of the Year, the first time that’s ever happened in Wisconsin softball history. Her power hitting was an asset for the Badgers’ journey to the NCAA tournament last year, and will be again this year — she leads the team so far with a .720 slugging percentage, a .538 on-base percentage and 20 hits.
Freshman Fiona Girardot, a two-time MaxPreps All-American, has also made a strong first impression on offense. She currently leads the team with 13 runs and is second in slugging percentage, on-base percentage and hits, all behind Konwent.
In the pitcher’s circle, senior Kaitlyn Menz has had a great start to the year. As a 2019 second-team All-Big Ten member, she has produced 45 strikeouts through 69 innings over 13 appearances so far this season.
The Badgers began their season in early February by heading to sunny Boca Raton, Florida to play in the FAU First Pitch Classic. After falling short in their first game, they came back and won the rest of their games, finishing the tournament 4-1.
The following weekend, the Badgers traveled south to Chapel Hill, North Carolina for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They ended up splitting the weekend with two wins and losses, winning and losing to Louisville and North Carolina once each.
They then headed out to Cathedral City, California for another tournament, where the Badgers proved they could hang-on with some of the nation’s top teams. Although they only went 2-3 for the weekend, they beat No. 3 Oklahoma 4-3, and only lost to No. 2 Washington and No. 1 UCLA because of two walk-off homeruns.
More notably, Wisconsin was the only team in the tournament to bring UCLA to extra-innings.
Back out west in the Sun Devil Classic this past weekend, Wisconsin went 2-3 again.
After coming out short in their first meeting against No. 17 Arizona State, they were then able to defeat the Sun Devils on their home field 10-1.
Although the Badgers have lost nine games so far this season, they’ve all been decided by two or less runs. On the flip side, their 10 wins have been decided by an average of 5.6 runs.
This weekend, the Badgers will head down to Tampa, Florida for the USF tournament, their final pre-season tournament before their first regular season game on March 18 at Villanova.