Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Softball travels to San Diego looking for run production

UW leadoff hitter Jen Krueger is batting just .189 after leading the team in batting average last year.[/media-credit]

After having two games rained out last weekend, the Wisconsin softball team heads to California again for this weekend’s San Diego Classic.

Wisconsin (3-9) will face No. 22 ranked Fresno State (9-4) before taking on co-host San Diego (3-6) on Friday. The Badgers have another double-header Saturday, squaring off against Buffalo (3-4) and the other co-host, San Diego State (8-8). Sunday, UW closes the tournament against Cal Poly (3-5).

In preparation for this tournament, the Badgers focused in practice on scoring more runs to support their pitchers, staying calm and consistent throughout entire games and closing games — all areas the team has struggled in this year.


Senior pitcher Letty Olivarez has been throwing the ball well, but the offense hasn’t pulled its weight. Olivarez only has a 3-8 record despite a 2.72 ERA, while the offense has merely managed 30 runs in 12 games.

“Letty’s having a great year,” head coach Chandelle Schulte said. “We need to help her out offensively and defensively, and she needs to help herself out in closing moments, so I think she feels good about the offensive production that will be there for her.”

Leadoff hitter Jen Krueger, who led the Badgers in most offensive categories last season, is off to a rough start, hitting only .189 without an extra base hit, though she is 7-for-8 in stolen base attempts.

Schulte is trying to correct this by setting a modest goal for the team of three runs a game; she says that will start with production from the top of the order.

“Frankly, the top of our order has to get on, and they haven’t been getting on like we’re used to with Jen Krueger,” Schulte said. “That’s a run a game if you get your leadoff hitter on. I think [Krueger] scores 80 percent of the time when she gets on.

“Jen’s a fantastic softball player, so it’s just getting her over this hump to do what she’s already proven she can do — that creates runs from the get-go. So we’ve worked a lot this week with her confidence.”

One bright spot in the Badgers’ offense has been freshman first baseman and designated hitter Molly Spence, who’s hitting .355 with six walks, 5 RBIs, a home run and three stolen bases. She attributes her great start to merely swinging at the right pitches, staying calm and hitting for contact.

“I’m just trying to see the ball and make sure I’m hitting the right pitch,” Spence said. “Putting the ball in play, trying to keep it simple at the plate, just make contact. I’m not trying to do anything special.”

Olivarez said everyone needs to focus on calmness and playing simple because the team has a tendency to lose its calm.

“The coaches have been saying be relaxed, try not to push the panic button, play as a team, because I feel like we get into that groove where we just start freaking out about things,” Olivarez said. “They’re saying just be mentally there, not even the whole time but for those few seconds that we’re fielding the ball or swinging.”

Changing a mindset can take some time, though, Schulte said.

“That’s a mentality we’ve been trying to change, but that’s hard,” Schulte said. “You have to have confidence to win and winning creates confidence, so it comes hand-in-hand.”

Once they have that state of mind, Schulte said, the team will score more runs and have more confidence in winning close games and maintaining leads. Schulte also said the team has yet to play a great game offensively and defensively, but there have been flashes of good things.

“They still see how good they can be,” Schulte said. “I think we all agree that you have to take your moments when you can win, and we’re not taking those moments. So I think if anything, they’re learning, and I’m seeing them make changes because they want to compete — so that’s what impressed me the most.”

Spence believes the team is moving in that direction.

“We have some moments of greatness, we’ve played awesome and we’ve been working as a team, and that’s been great,” Spence said. “It’s all about finishing the game, finishing each play and making sure that we’re closing those games when we have those leads.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *