Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - April 3, 2014

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

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64 // VARSITY April 3, 2014 INSIDE SOFTBALL Day by day, game by game, Wisconsin improves Badgers look to hit stride in Big Ten BY CHRISTIAN BLATNER @BADGERSOFTBALL N ow 30 games into the toughest schedule in program history, the Wisconsin softball team (16- 14, 2-4) has an above-.500 record and, in the mind of its head coach, improves as each game goes by. Playing most contests with a starting lineup split between both experi- enced and inexperienced play- ers has allowed the Badgers to mesh on many fronts. On a typical lineup card, UW will boast three seniors, three juniors, a sophomore, two freshman and, depending on the game, either another senior or sophomore in the pitcher's circle. While the three seniors, Mary Massei, Michelle Muel- ler and Stephanie Peace, have carried most of the load so far by tallying 52 of the Badgers' 100 RBI, freshmen Chloe Miller and Sara Novak have filled their roles nicely. Miller has started every game behind the dish for Wisconsin, throwing out five runners and batting .260 with four home runs and 14 RBI. Novak has been an asset at the utility position for UW, making starts at short- stop and second base and even appear- ing in the pitcher's circle for the Badgers. The Shorewood, Ill., native has made just five errors playing a few of the toughest positions on the field and lays claim to the third-best on-base percentage on the squad at .444. "We've got a lot of youth out there," UW head coach Yvette Healy said after last Saturday's doubleheader with Iowa. "We're still making a lot of mistakes, a lot of mental mistakes. We're just working on teaching the game and eliminating those errors and not beating ourselves." And that's normally the name of the game: not beating yourself. Wisconsin hasn't beaten itself often in 2014, post- ing a respectable .950 fielding percent- age and averaging only a shade over one error per game. "We're still putting a lot of the pieces of the puzzle together right now," outfielder Maria Van Abel said. "We're all still work- ing through some things individually in the box. We're a young team, so we can't get frustrated. We've made some big improvements, some big strides, so it'll come eventually. We just have to trust the process and it will all come together. "It just takes time." SCHEDULE (16-14, 2-4) THIS WEEK Friday Minnesota 6 p.m. Saturday Minnesota 1 p.m. Sunday Minnesota 1 p.m.

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