Heart of order emerging

By Robert Panger, Sports Writer

As the Madison weather heats up, the heart of the Wisconsin softball lineup has followed suit.

With shortstop Kris Zacher hitting third, catcher Boo Gillette hitting cleanup, and leftfielder Diana Consolmagno holding her own at the five hole, the Badgers have their own version of Murderer’s Row, gathering up hits and RBI this weekend like Pac Man picks up little white dots.

They showed their grit as they came back from a shaky loss Friday to Indiana to take the second Indiana game Saturday 1-0. Consolmagno drove in the lone RBI in the game as Sara Gonzalez pitched her first career complete game shutout.

Sunday, the story was the same for the Badger triple threat. In the first game of the doubleheader against the Purdue Boilermakers, Zacher, Gillette and Consolmagno knocked in all of the Badger runs. Consolmagno drove in two with a first inning single while Gillette and Zacher got theirs with hits in the second and fourth innings, respectively.

In the second game, Boo Gillette was the one to come up with a big hit when the Badgers needed it. With one out in the top of the seventh inning, Gillette took Boilermaker hurler Diana LaRiva’s pitch deep over the leftfield wall to tie the game and keep the Badgers’ hopes alive.

“I just kept on saying to myself, ‘I’m better than you,'” said Gillette about the home run. “I always say that in my head when I’m hitting, and this time I was better.”

The hit wasn’t enough to carry the Badgers to victory, however, because in the bottom of the seventh the wind carried a pop fly over centerfielder Sam Polito’s head, allowing the runner on second to score the game-winner.

Despite the tough loss, the Badgers can be grateful for the output of their big three in the heart of the lineup. Kris Zacher leads the Badgers with a .368 batting average and four home runs, and she also leads the Big Ten with 33 runs scored. Gillette has done well for herself as well, hitting .354 on the season, with three homers and 29 RBI. Consolmagno, who struggled early in the year, has come into her own during the Big Ten season, hitting .296 in the 12 games against conference rivals with a .481 slugging percentage.

Captains are captains because they lead the team on and off the field. Gillette and Consolmagno have the official title, and Zacher has done her part to step into a leadership role for the team.

The Badgers are currently two games under .500 in Big Ten play, but with the leadership of the Zacher, Gillette and Consolmagno, the team could see a lot more wins in its future.