The University of Wisconsin Badgers softball team started their season in the best way possible. It began in Cedar Falls, Iowa, last weekend for the Uni-Dome Classic, in which the Badgers’ bats exploded for 23 runs and their pitching staff slammed the door to win four games in three days.
Wisconsin (4-0) now heads to Tampa, Florida, to continue nonconference play against the No. 20 University of South Florida Bulls (3-1) and the Binghamton University Bearcats in a double-header Thursday.
The first game against USF serves as a threat to end the Badgers’ winning streak. The Bulls came out of their opening weekend 3-1 while beating No. 10 Michigan and dropping a game to No. 1 Florida. In those four games, USF surrendered 20 runs with eight of them coming against Florida. In each of their wins, the Bulls played from behind trailing in the sixth inning or later.
Should Wisconsin’s hot bats give freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Menz a lead, the Bulls may find themselves in too big of a hole. Last weekend Menz went 3-0 in three games, striking out 15 batters and allowing one run in 19 innings of work.
Later that same day, the Badgers will face Binghamton, who will be playing their season opener. Last season, the Bearcats finished with a record of 34-15 while winning the American East Regular Season Championship, but have since lost six seniors who were an important part of that team.
After the double-header, the Badgers will head to Clearwater, Florida for the Michele Smith Pediatric Cancer Foundation Invitational. Wisconsin will face the St. Joseph’s University Hawks, No. 16 James Madison University Dukes (3-1) and the Hofstra University Pride.
Wisconsin’s offense seems to be giving the results everyone hoped to see so far in this young season with senior catcher, Chloe Miller, leads the charge. Miller’s .615 batting average, .667 on base percentage, 1.000 slugging percentage and four RBI’s leads the team among players with at least 10 at bats.
Behind Miller are senior Sara Novak and junior Kelsey Jenkins, contributing as well with three RBI’s a piece. Miller and Jenkins each have one home run along with sophomore, Melanie Cross. The Badgers plus-15 run differential is enough to make any of their opponents uneasy.
The cardinal red and white will look to extend their unbeaten streak Thursday at 4 p.m. against USF and 6:15 p.m. against Binghamton. This weekend, the Badgers will play Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. against St. Joseph’s and James Madison, squaring off against Hofstra the next day at 8:30 a.m. All times are central.