UW heads to South Bend

first_imgBEN CLASSON/Herald photoAfter two weeks and nine games at home, the Wisconsinsoftball team is back on the road Wednesday as it travels to South Bend, Ind.,for a nonconference battle with Notre Dame.The Badgers head into the game following a disappointingweekend in Big Ten play. The team was swept by Michigan in a doubleheaderFriday and split two games Sunday with Penn State.Wisconsin got strong performances from many players, butsome crucial errors and sloppy field conditions led to the 1-3 record over theweekend.“Actually, I thought we played pretty well,” headcoach Chandelle Schulte said. “We certainly had our opportunities, but Idon’t think they’re disheartened. Hopefully, we’ll just keep gettingbetter.”Wisconsin (12-32) will need to play its best once againWednesday as it faces off against one of the top teams in the Big Eastconference. Notre Dame (26-13) is currently tied for third in the Big East witha 7-3 record in conference play.Leading the way for the Fighting Irish has been the stellarperformance of pitcher Brittany Bargar. The junior from California boasts a20-8 record with an earned run average of 0.98.“Bargar is one of the best pitchers in thecountry,” Schulte said. “But usually we do fairly well against theNo. 1s; it’s the twos and threes that we struggle with.”Backing Bargar up has been strong defense for Notre Dame,which has a .958 fielding percentage. As a result, the Fighting Irish haveallowed only 84 runs on the season through 39 games.Schulte’s main concern is not her team’s offensive output;she is more concerned with her pitchers’ ability to shut down the Notre Damehitters.“We hit better pitching, so I’m not too worried aboutour offense,” Schulte said. “I’m worried about their offense, whichis hitting .273 — so we’ll have to keep them at bay, and then we’ll have afairly good shot at it.”Wisconsin pitcher Leah Vanevenhoven’s recent performance hastypified the kind of season it has been for the Badgers.A week ago, against Northern Iowa, Vanevenhoven was withinone out of a no-hitter before giving up a three-run home run in the seventhinning to lose the game.Following that game, she struggled for much of the weekend,until Sunday’s finale, when the junior held Penn State to only four hits, but atwo-run triple in the sixth ultimately cost the Badgers a victory.Following a day off and some much-needed rest, Vanevenhoven feelsshe and her teammates are ready to face an excellent Notre Dame squad.“In practice we were all up and we were all positive aswe worked on our hitting and pitching, getting ready for the game,”Vanevenhoven said. “Having the laid-back atmosphere, with structurethough, will help us into the weekend.”In preparing for a strong hitting team like Notre Dame,Vanevenhoven hopes to use some of the same techniques she focused on againstteams like Northwestern and Michigan.“In those games I tried to keep the ball off the plate,rather than worrying about anything else,” Vanevenhoven said. “I justreally need to hit my outside corners, and I will be successful. If I leaveanything over the plate, I know that they’ll just jack it out of the park.”Much like last week against Northern Iowa, the Badgers hopeto sharpen their focus with another midweek nonconference game.“I think it just gives us another chance to fine-tunesome things,” Schulte said. “We’ll be able to work on things likebunt-and-runs, base-running issues we’ve had and other things like that.”As the Badgers prepared for the Notre Dame offense, pitcherLetty Olivarez focused on a few specifics, such as locating her changeup andkeeping her pitches down in the strike zone.Olivarez believes her team will be ready to play a stronggame against the Fighting Irish.“If we all just go out and shake off whatever hashappened, we should be fine,” Olivarez said. “As long as we come outwith heart, and everyone wants to play, we should do well.”last_img