Wisconsin to face contrasting styles this weekend

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first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoThe Wisconsin softball team (12-33, 2-10 Big Ten) will head on the road this weekend for a Big Ten showdown with Iowa (29-13, 7-3) and Illinois (24-23, 3-7). After a disappointing nonconference loss to Notre Dame on Wednesday, the Badgers are looking to bounce back and move out of the cellar of the Big Ten standings.The Badgers — who have struggled to pitch consistently all season — will need a string of strong pitching performances if they hope to win any games this weekend.“Honestly, we don’t know how to fix this right now,” sophomore Letty Olivarez said. “We are trying to figure it out as a pitching staff, and there is obviously some reason why we have been so inconsistent. The problem is we will be pitching great, and then in one inning, run after run after run will score.”UW’s pitchers have been particularly hurt by home runs this season. This was the case against Notre Dame when the Badgers gave up three long balls in the fourth inning.“Our pitchers have got to get better at hitting their spots,” UW head coach Chandelle Schulte said. “Until that happens the ball is going to keep clearing the fence. We gave up four home runs yesterday with a five-run lead. The consequences are pretty obvious when, as a pitcher, you don’t hit your spot.”The Badgers will start the weekend with a two-game series against Iowa and then play a doubleheader against Illinois. This could present a challenge because the two teams have very contrasting styles. Iowa excels at pitching and defense and only gives up an average of 1.14 runs per game. Illinois, on the other hand, wins games from their offense and averages 4.68 runs per game.“Iowa and Illinois, while their records are different, are both very good softball teams,” Schulte said. “Illinois can just flat-out hit. Iowa doesn’t hit as well, but they have strong pitching. I have said this all year long — it doesn’t really matter who we play. If we play the way we can, then we will be successful; if we don’t, then we are going to lose more games.”Iowa boasts two of the top pitchers in the Big Ten — Brittany Weil and Amanda Zust, who have a 1.08 and 1.24 ERA, respectively. Because runs will be hard to come by, extra pressure is put on the Badger pitchers to keep the score close and not give up the big inning.“It does put a little bit of pressure knowing how good their pitchers are throwing the ball,” Olivarez said. “Obviously, we never want anyone to score off us, but knowing that it will be a low-scoring game, every pitch is that much more important.”However, making things seem not as daunting is the fact that the Badgers’ offense has been on a tear lately, averaging 4.25 runs over their last four games.“We have been making good adjustments from one at-bat to another,” junior Theresa Boruta said. “If you get out on one pitch in your first at-bat, you don’t let yourself get fooled again. Even when we are not hitting, we have been doing the little things well, like getting our bunts down, hitting and running or just coming up with clutch hits.”And Schulte has also noticed that her team steps it up a notch when they face top-notch pitching.“Surprisingly, we tend to hit better against better pitchers,” Schulte added. “Even against Notre Dame, that kid was very good, and we hit her well. We have had an aggressive mentality lately, swinging at a few more first-pitch strikes, and it has paid off.”last_img read more