17 Sep

Wisconsin out for revenge against Horizon foe

first_imgThe University of Wisconsin softball team (27-21, 9-9 Big Ten) will complete its home schedule Wednesday against University of Illinois-Chicago (35-23, 11-4 Horizon) at 5 p.m. at Goodman Diamond in what will be the last home game for six UW seniors — Boo Gillette, Katie Layne, Kris Zacher, Natalie Phillips, Meghann Reiss and Anastasia Miller. The Badgers will attempt to avenge their 5-4 loss to the Flames earlier this season (April 6 in Chicago).“I felt like we had the game in hand and then … kinda let the game slip away,” UW head coach Karen Gallagher said of the first matchup.In one of the more frustrating games of the season, Wisconsin saw its 4-2 lead evaporate despite posting a then-season-high 12 hits. However, the Badgers stranded 11 base runners over the course of the game. The loss came amid Wisconsin’s midseason funk, where it had lost eight of nine games. Wisconsin has since rebounded and is currently on a tear, having claimed victory in 14 of its last 16 contests.The Flames are currently on top of the standings in the Horizon League, one game above Wisconsin-Green Bay, and look poised to make a run for a seventh conference title this season, after winning six of the past seven. Despite hailing from a smaller conference, the Flames have been more than competitive with Wisconsin, currently leading the all-time series 4-2 over UW.If Wisconsin is going to have any more success against UIC this time around, it will have to keep the Flames in the ballpark, as they hit three homeruns against the Badgers in the previous matchup.Illinois-Chicago is a very dangerous offensive team, with seven players posting 20-plus RBI and the top five batters all hitting above .300. The ringleader of the Flames’ offense is Cameron Astiazaran, a senior outfielder who has had a season to remember so far. Her .483 batting average is fourth best in the nation, while she is the NCAA doubles leader with 24. Astiazaran is also the team leader in every offensive category, leading the Flames with 14 homeruns and 46 RBI.Illinois-Chicago’s pitching has not been nearly as successful, however, as the Flames have a team ERA of 3.58, compared to Wisconsin’s 2.72 team ERA.Wisconsin will likely see either junior Brittany McIntyre or freshman Mercedes Lovato start. McIntyre is 17-12 with a 3.35 ERA, while Lovato has a record of 16-9 and an ERA of 3.69. Both pitched in the earlier meeting between the two teams, with Lovato getting the starting nod and receiving a shelling from Wisconsin. Lovato gave up four runs on nine hits in four innings pitched before giving way to McIntyre, who only allowed three hits and no runs in her three innings of work, earning the win. Both pitchers have been susceptible to giving up the long ball this season, as the Flames have allowed opponents to hit 39 homeruns this season, a good omen for Wisconsin, who set a school record with five homeruns in Tuesday’s second win over Valparaiso.For the Badger seniors, the last home game of their careers will be reason enough to come out firing against Illinois-Chicago.“I don’t think anything can prepare you for that moment, your last home game of your senior year,” Phillips said. “It’s going to be emotional, and I’m sure it is going to be the same way with my five other fellow seniors. We’ll be playing for each other. We always do, but it will be that euphoric feeling with it. These are our memories right here.”Gallagher, like her seniors, is looking toward Wednesday’s game with optimism and expects her team to play well, regardless of what sentimental significance the game might have.“We are just focused on getting done what we have to do on the field,” Gallagher said. “[Wednesday] should be a great day to play, and we look forward to ending out our home season with a win.”last_img read more

16 Sep

Badgers to take national stage

first_imgWisconsin will count on the help of senior middle blocker Alexis Mitchell, who ranks second on the team in kills this season, against two ranked opponents this weekend.[/media-credit]The Wisconsin volleyball team will gain national attention this weekend as it travels to Ohio State and Penn State, two of the top teams in the conference.The Badgers will take on the No. 15 Buckeyes Friday and will then have a date with third-ranked Penn State Sunday, a match that will be televised nationally on ESPN2.Wisconsin will look to build on last weekend’s range of highs and lows. The Badgers beat Illinois Friday, something they had not done in five years, and then lost a heartbreaking five-set match Sunday to Northwestern.Together, the matches featured some of the best volleyball of the season for Wisconsin and also some of the worst in Sunday’s gut-wrenching loss. UW head coach Pete Waite said moving on from that disappointment will be key in the upcoming weekend.“We don’t dwell on it,” Waite said of the loss. “We won’t dwell on that because we did a lot of good things in the match. From the way we started to the way we finished was actually really good. We need to focus on the things we need to get better at.”Wisconsin will need to improve if it wants to beat an Ohio State team loaded with talent. The Buckeyes took care of Wisconsin 3-1 in Madison earlier this season. Ohio State is coming off a weekend in which it upset fourth-ranked Nebraska on the road and swept Iowa, part of a three-match winning streak.The Buckeyes are paced offensively by senior outside hitter Mari Hole, who leads the team with 4.06 kills per set. Defensively, they are led by junior libero Davionna DiSalvatore, who averages a team-best 3.85 digs per set.The country’s No. 15 squad also features a two-setter system. Wisconsin senior middle blocker Alexis Mitchell said the Ohio State match is the first priority.“We need to focus on Ohio State first, definitely,” Mitchell said. “It’s a match that we know that we can win and our teams are very similar. We have to come back and beat Ohio State this weekend.”The Badgers will then take on perennial powerhouse Penn State after the match with Ohio State. The Nittany Lions made quick work of Wisconsin earlier this season in Madison, dominating the match to earn a three-set sweep.However, the Nittany Lions showed their vulnerability this past weekend, losing their first Big Ten match of the season to Nebraska by a score of 3-2, breaking a 15-match winning streak for Penn State.On the offensive end, Penn State is led by junior outside hitter Ariel Scott, who leads the team with 3.63 kills per set. Junior Deja McClendon adds 3.33 kills per set.Penn State is led defensively by junior middle blocker Katie Slay (1.41 blocks per set) and sophomore libero Dominique Gonzalez (3.59 digs per set). Sophomore setter Micha Hancock averages 11.61 assists per set and boasts one of the best serves in the Big Ten (41 service aces).Wisconsin junior defensive specialist Annemarie Hickey said despite their stellar r?sum?, the Nittany Lions are beatable.“I think on any given day and on how we’re playing, we can beat any team in the Big Ten,” Hickey said. “We need to have that confidence and know that we are a good team to beat these teams. It doesn’t matter if they’re ranked or how good they are. It’s just another team on the other side. We need to worry about our side and what we can do best to win that game.”The Penn State match will mark the first time since 2008 the Badgers will be featured on ESPN. The 2008 match was a loss to then-top ranked Penn State. Wisconsin is 11-7 all-time on ESPN network appearances, five of which have been against Penn State, in which the Badgers are 2-3. Waite said it will still just be another match.“Any match you go to, there are a lot of cameras and a lot of things going on,” Waite said. “For the most part, I just think they’re focused on the match and their opponent. It would be great if we play a great match and get the win on national television, but the biggest thing is us competing well and not being distracted by too many things.”last_img read more