The Wisconsin Badgers (25-12 overall, 10-5 in-conference) will travel to University Park, Pennsylvania to play the Penn State Nittany Lions (27-18, 9-7) in a three-game set this weekend.
Wisconsin, coming off its series win against Nebraska, will look to continue its success against a very good Penn State team. This series will feature some of the Big Ten’s best hitters in Wisconsin’s Kayla Konwent and Penn State’s Cassie Lindmark, as well as two of the conference’s top pitchers in Badger Maddie Schwartz and Nittany Lion Bailey Parshall.
Lindmark, the Nittany Lions’ junior catcher, is currently third in the conference with a .418 batting average. She has an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of 1.212 with seven home runs and 33 RBI on the season. She has also proven to be quite the ball magnet, as she leads the Big Ten in hit by pitches with 18.
Konwent, meanwhile, is hitting .430 this season, good for second in the conference. She too has demonstrated her power with an absurd slugging percentage of .760. Konwent has 25 RBI this season to go along with her eight home runs. The senior, batting atop Wisconsin’s lineup as usual, displayed good plate discipline with her five walks this past weekend against Nebraska.
The Badgers will have a tough matchup against Parshall, who has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the nation this season. Parshall has an ERA of 1.70, which is 4th lowest in the conference. She has pitched 168.2 innings thus far in 2022 while holding opponents to a .186 average. Parshall, who has 16 complete games in 21 starts, has also entered 12 games in relief.
Wisconsin has gotten similarly stellar pitching from ace Maddie Schwartz, who this past weekend allowed just four earned runs in 18 innings pitched against a dominant Nebraska lineup. Overall, Schwartz has pitched 141.2 innings with a 2.37 ERA this season while striking out 97 batters. Assuming good health, Schwartz will handle her usual workload and log upwards of 17 innings this weekend while Tessa Magnanimo and Ava Justman pitch the rest.
In addition to Lindmark, Schwartz must be careful with Penn State’s Ally Kurland, who, along with Lindmark, has been a huge part of the Penn State offense. Kurland has a knack for driving in runs, as proven by her team-leading 41 RBI (good for sixth in the conference).
Her 16 home runs and .740 slugging percentage rank third and sixth in the Big Ten, respectively.
Another Badger who should make an impact is senior outfielder Ally Miklesh, who is a threat both at the plate and on the bases. Miklesh has a batting average of .383 and an OPS of .971 along with 20 RBI. She leads Wisconsin’s roster with 10 stolen bases.
This late-season set has major implications in the Big Ten standings, as the Badgers and Nittany Lions are currently fifth and sixth in the conference. Penn State can pass Wisconsin with a three-game sweep. The Badgers, meanwhile, sit only a couple games behind Maryland and Illinois and could catch those teams with a strong end to the 2022 campaign.
Overall, the Wisconsin-Penn State matchup this weekend will be an entertaining one with dominant pitching and hitting. Game 1 kicks off Friday at 5pm at Nittany Lion Softball Park.