Badgers hope to get back on track against Buckeyes

first_imgLetty Olivarez and the UW softball team will look to end an eight-game losing streak this weekend.[/media-credit]This week the University of Wisconsin softball team will resume Big Ten play as it hosts the Ohio State Buckeyes in a two game set on Saturday and Sunday at the Goodman Softball complex.The Buckeyes, ranked No. 15 in the country, have won nine games in a row and are 9-1 in Big Ten competition. The Buckeyes’ last blemish to their impressive 33-6 record came at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes nearly three weeks ago, when they lost 12-4. Conversely, in that same time span, the Badgers have struggled as the Buckeyes have excelled. After their April 1 series versus state rival UW-Green Bay, the Badgers have compiled a 1-9 record.One of the common denominators in all of Wisconsin’s losses has been an absence of offense. During that 10 game span, the team only managed to score more than two runs once while getting shut out six times. While their record doesn’t look too promising, the team isn’t devoid of players who are producing this year. Leadoff hitter Jen Krueger, not only leads the team with 16 stolen bases, but also guides the lineup with a .321 batting average.“Without Jen, I mean she’s the catalyst — she went 0-for-3 in that Penn State, you know and it killed us,” head coach Chandelle Schulte said. “The thing about Jen is she wants it bad.”In their last game versus Notre Dame, with the outfielders playing extremely shallow, Krueger surprised everyone when she showed some pop in her bat and slapped the pitch over the center fielder scoring a runner, and then raced around the bases with a stand up triple.Another bright spot on the team has been the play of junior Letty Olivarez from Newark, Calif. Before her last start against Notre Dame, Olivarez had accumulated an earned run average of 2.94 while striking out 119 batters and only walking 52.“I think Letty will tell you that she hasn’t performed as well as she could but from a coaching perspective she’s shown a huge improvement,” Schulte said. “We’re asking her to carry a lot on her back.”Opponents were only batting .248 off of her and many of her losses can be attributed to mental lapses from the defense behind her. She is also consistently batting in the heart of the Badger lineup, where she continues to be one of the team’s biggest home run threats. Olivarez leads the team in home runs with four, RBIs with 17, and is second in slugging percentage with a .378 clip.“I actually really enjoy hitting, it helps me keep my mind off my pitching and separate my two games from each other,” Olivarez said. “I like being one of the clean ups.”In the circle, Wisconsin pitchers Olivarez and Leah Vanevenhoven will have to contend with the Buckeyes’ most feared hitter, Sam Marder. She boasts a .389 average with 15 home runs and 36 RBIs as well as a .996 fielding percentage as the Ohio State catcher. In the circle, the struggling Badger offense will most likely need to square up against Kim Reeder, who has a 1.34 ERA and has notched a 17-3 overall record. Olivarez and Vanevenhoven will have their work cut out for them as the Buckeyes suit up four players with averages above .300.Recent history suggests the Badgers will be able to compete well with the highly touted Buckeyes. A year ago in Madison, the Badgers split the series with the Buckeyes, losing the first game to Kim Reeder, who conceded one run in her seven innings. Although they lost the first game, the Badgers showed some resilience when they came back to win the second game 4-3 behind a superb effort, which saw Olivarez strike out seven batters and surrender only three runs.last_img

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