Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - March 27, 2014

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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58 // VARSITY March 27, 2014 INSIDE SOFTBALL Badgers poised for rigors of Big Ten schedule Wisconsin looks to be among league's best BY CHRISTIAN BLATNER @BADGERSOFTBALL T he start of conference season, which began for Wisconsin last week- end at No. 23 Northwestern, is normally a signifier for a team to buckle down and really be- gin to perform at its best. While Badgers softball fans may still have yet to see UW's best on the diamond in 2014, the team has been buckled down since Day One. It had to be. In the mat- ter of one month, Wisconsin played nine games against five ranked opponents. The stretch was highlighted by a 7-5 win over Arizona in Fullerton, Ca- lif., at the Judi Garman Classic in which the Badgers finished with a 3-2-tournament record. The Badgers knew a difficult schedule would prepare them for a competitive road ahead. "It was definitely something we all knew coming into the season: we were going to have one of the hardest sched- ules ever put together (at Wisconsin)," UW right fielder Mary Massei said. "But it's tough games and teams that we're playing that are going to prepare us for conference. After having that tough of a preseason we definitely have a better mindset and mentality." Even though Wisconsin enters its sec- ond Big Ten series of the season against Iowa Friday through Sunday with 15-12 overall and 1-2 conference records, its body of work is what should make oppo- nents nervous. Hey, the Badgers may even have a tar- get on their backs coming off a 2013 Big Ten tournament in which they defeated fifth-seeded Northwestern, No. 6 Michi- gan and third-seeded Minnesota in three days to capture the championship. And Wisconsin is ready to defend its title and stake its claim as a premiere force in the Big Ten. "We're just excited to keep playing good and working during the week to get as many signature wins as we can," Mas- sei said. "We know we're playing a lot of great teams like Northwestern, Michi- gan, Nebraska and Minnesota. They're all ranked right now and we're just excited to play them and to see how we do." The Badgers welcome Iowa (7-14, 2-1) to Goodman Diamond for their first home series of the year. Games are set for 4 p.m. on Friday and noon on both Saturday and Sunday. SCHEDULE (15-12, 1-2) THIS WEEK Friday Iowa 4 p.m. Saturday Iowa Noon Sunday Iowa Noon

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