After starting their season off with a successful outing at the Scrapyard Tournament in Houston last weekend, the University of Wisconsin softball team (4-1) will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina, to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference-Big Ten Challenge. The Badgers will once again look for their young core of players to put out a successful showing.

All five Badger freshmen saw the field in Houston and made meaningful contributions to Wisconsin’s dynamite offense.

Freshman Ally Miklesh added four hits, four RBIs and scored five of Wisconsin’s runs for the tournament. Jolie Fish drew four walks and Tyra Turner scored three times with one stolen base.

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Pitcher Maddie Schwartz had a brilliant pitching debut for the Badgers, tossing a five-inning shutout against Lamar that proved she can be an important member of Wisconsin’s pitching rotation moving forward.

Taylor Johnson went 9-16 with a .563 batting average to lead the team. Jordan Little and Melanie Cross showed their power with two home runs each.

Keeping the younger Badgers active alongside numerous experienced upperclassmen at the plate and in the field will be crucial in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

Wisconsin will face two teams twice during the upcoming tournament. The challengers include ACC foes North Carolina State Wolfpack (3-2) and the Pittsburgh Panthers (1-4).

The Badgers will first play Pittsburgh Friday at 9 a.m. and then Saturday at 11 a.m.

After underperforming in the Cougar Classic in Charleston, South Carolina, last weekend, the Panthers are looking to redeem themselves against the Big Ten this weekend.

Pittsburgh showed their ability to put runs on the board in their previous tournament, scoring a total of 25 runs over five games. But they also presented defensive deficiencies by giving up 43 runs in just one win over five games.

A common opponent for both Pittsburgh and Wisconsin would be Purdue. The Boilermakers outscored the Panthers 13–9 in eight innings.

In two games against Pittsburgh, the Badgers will need to continue producing runs while holding off a powerful Panther offense, especially freshman Katlyn Pavlick, who is currently hitting .429 and has already hit two home runs.

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Wisconsin will then face off against NC State Friday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 11:30 p.m.

While the Badgers hold a better opening record than the Wolfpack, NC State has an early advantage, as they’ve already played three games against ranked teams this season.

Losses to No. 19 Michigan and No. 5 Florida and a victory against No. 7 Arizona give NC State some early experience against some of the top teams in the country.

Since most of their games in the University of South Florida Opening Weekend Invitational were low scoring, the Wolfpack relied heavily on two of their star pitchers to carry them.

Junior Devin Wallace and freshman Sydney Nester took on a large share of the pitching in NC State’s opening tournament. The pair struck out a total of 26 batters over the weekend.

A continued firepower offense and a strong defensive outing should prove successful for the Badgers.

As the Badgers look to improve their record this weekend, it’s crucial they maintain consistent offensive production while holding their ground in the field in order to come out victorious.

The games can be followed with live stats on uwbadgers.com or on Twitter @BadgerSoftball. Both matchups with NC State can be viewed on the WatchESPN app or ACC Network Extra.