Badgers head off to Indiana

first_imgGREG SCHMITZ/Herald PhotoThis weekend’s games against conference foes Indiana and Purdue will go a long way in determining whether the UW softball team realizes its preseason goal of qualifying for the Big Ten tournament.Though the Badgers remain two games over .500 on the season, their 3-5 mark in conference play hasn’t, and the Badgers find themselves in seventh place in the Big Ten. The top eight finishers will make the Big Ten tournament, which will be held the weekend of May 12-14 on campus sites.This weekend’s games against Indiana and Purdue are particularly important, because the Hoosiers and the Boilermakers are two of the four teams that currently rank below the Badgers in the Big Ten. Indiana is 3-8 this conference season and sits in 10th place, while Purdue is 4-7 and right behind Wisconsin in the eighth slot.However, because the parity in the Big Ten this season is similar to that which was found in the conference’s basketball season the past few months, on any given day, any team can rise or fall. Purdue and Indiana know this best; earlier this season, they upset Big Ten giants Michigan and Ohio State, respectively.”We have to get better at beating teams that we can, and these are two teams we can beat,” said UW head coach Chandelle Schulte. “But it’s not a pushover by any means.”Wisconsin comes off Wednesday’s game at University of Illinois-Chicago, where pitcher Eden Brock masterfully pieced together a complete game, two-hitter to earn the win for the Badgers. While she surely gained confidence from her performance, she understands that pitching well in non-conference games is not nearly as important as doing the same in Big Ten games.”It’s always exciting to compete against the Big Ten teams,” said Brock. “You’re competing for pride, and just trying to get into the Big Ten tournament. We’re trying to work our way into [the tournament] by beating everybody out.”Wisconsin is planning to leave Thursday night for Bloomington, Ind., to face the Hoosiers on Friday and Saturday. They will then travel to play a doubleheader on Sunday in West Lafayette against the Boilermakers.Mariangee Bogado is the Hoosiers’ pitching ace. She sports a 1.64 ERA and has 220 strikeouts in only 158 innings pitched on the season. Coach Schulte found it interesting that Bogado did not pitch in the Hoosiers’ last game, in which they lost against Ohio. In all likelihood, Bogado will be the game one starter in the series against the Badgers.Indiana’s bats were quiet in that 1-0 loss to Ohio, but do not expect that trend to continue this weekend against Wisconsin. Lauren Hines, the Hoosiers’ best hitter, is as dangerous at the plate as anyone in the conference.She is hitting an impressive .421 on the season, has hit eight home runs on the year, and gets on base over half the time she steps into the batter’s box. Assistant coach Barbara Sherwood, who deals mainly with the pitching staff on the Badgers, said that she had scouting reports on the Hoosier star and that she was confident in the ability of her pitching staff to get her out.Sherwood also expressed respect toward Purdue’s top hitter, DaQueta Johnson, who has hit nine home runs to go along with nine doubles and 40 RBIs on the year. Despite her power numbers, Johnson has just a .325 on-base percentage and has struck out much more often than she has walked.”I’d take her on my team any day,” said Sherwood.Purdue is coming off an interesting series against Northwestern. The Wildcats, one of the best teams in the entire nation — let alone the Big Ten — beat the Boilermakers 4-0 in the first game of the doubleheader. However, in the second game, Purdue was winning 1-0 before the game was cancelled due to rain. “If we play like we can, we will be fine,” said Schulte. “I think [the games] will be close. … It’s really important for us at least to win two out of four this weekend. It’s huge.”last_img

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