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 team works to lower ERA

[media-credit name=’BRYAN FAUST/Herald Photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]eden_brock_bf_416[/media-credit]One of the most striking changes for the Wisconsin softball team over the past seven games has been in the box score, namely on the opponent's line in the run column.

Since an 8-2 loss to Pacific on Mar. 11, which dropped the Badgers' record to 5-9, the team has reeled off an impressive 6-1 stint. In each of those games, Badger pitchers have allowed no more than four runs.

"One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to have a staff ERA around one or so," junior Eden Brock said. "Early in the season, we weren't anywhere close to that, but now we're starting to get it back down."


The Badgers' ERA during the recent hot streak? A "that's more like it" 1.71, the standard upon which Brock and the freshmen pitcher duo of Leah Vanevenhoven and Theresa Boruta intend on keeping for the rest of the year.

The pitchers are quick to shun away much of the credit for the recent stinginess, however.

"The defense behind us has really been great," Boruta said. "Our infield is really versatile and athletic."

"We have lots of confidence that if the ball gets hit, someone will get to it and make a play," Vanevenhoven, a graduate of Kaukauna High School, added.

Undoubtedly, a major factor which has played into the resurgence is Vanevenhoven's and Boruta's increased experience at the collegiate level.

"It takes some getting used to," Boruta said. "The biggest difference [between high school softball and college] is that if you make a mistake at this level, batters are going to take advantage of it almost all the time. You have to think a lot more and keep hitters off balance."

Vanevenhoven echoed Boruta's sentiments. "You are not going to strike everyone out, you just have to mix pitches the best you can and trust your teammates to make a play if it gets hit."

Badger head coach Chandelle Schulte sees progress in her young pitchers.

"At first it is a little disconcerting knowing that if you make a mistake, it will get hit hard," Schulte said. "They just have to trust their ability, and they are starting to do that."

The freshmen were afforded very little time early this season to get used to the idea of playing Division I softball before a baptism by fire, when they played such national powerhouse teams as Arizona State, Texas, and Stanford.

Boruta and Vanevenhoven, both all-state selections in Illinois and Wisconsin respectively, look back to their outings against Texas and Stanford as seminal moments that stand out as eye-openers to the fact that they were actually playing softball at the Division I level.

"Leah pitched very well against Texas, and then I got a chance to pitch against Stanford. "Those are two of the top teams in the country year in and year out. That's really when I realized that I had made it [to D1 softball]," Boruta said."

As the "seasoned veteran" of the pitching staff, Brock is always there looking to help her younger teammates out.

"Eden talks a lot during games. If there's something she sees we're doing mechanically wrong she will let us know. She's always helping us stay focused and positive during the game, too," Vanevenhoven explained.

Schulte agrees with Vanevenhoven. "Eden really leads by example. She's a successful pitcher and the younger pitchers watch how she goes about certain things and learn from that."

So does Brock feel any added pressure being the most experienced pitcher on the staff?

"Not really," Brock replied. "There is always the pressure to go out and win and pitch well, but I know that if I have a bad outing there is always someone behind me who has my back and will come in and help me out."

It is that sort of support and camaraderie which carries over off the diamond as well. The three noticeably enjoy each other's company, laughing and joking among themselves in the training room of Goodman Diamond prior to practice.

"We all get along so great, we just like to have a good time and that helps us relax and play better" Brock concluded.

Winter Wonderland: Anyone out and about the northwest corner of campus on Thursday afternoon caught a strange sight.

In wintry weather better suited for a polar bear or even the Badger hockey teams, the softball team held its first outdoor practice of the year.

As the players rolled up to practice on their mopeds covered in a wet layer of snow, freshman outfielder and California native Valyncia Raphael stood in amazement at the wintry scene around her.

"Not quite like home," Raphael said. "I can't believe we are actually going to practice in this!"

"Good thing the coaches decided to cancel practice [Wednesday]!" junior Sam Polito joked. "We should have called an emergency practice yesterday, it was so nice out."

"We need to practice in weather like this because there's a good chance we will end up playing a game somewhere along the line in weather similar to this," Schulte explained.

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