Badgers, again, flex muscles at home

first_imgWednesday represented another day, another opponent and another pair of home victories for the Badger softball team when in-state rival University of Wisconsin-Green Bay arrived at Goodman Diamond. The Badgers remained hot as ever at their home diamond, winning their program record 12th and 13th straight games playing near the friendly breeze of Lake Mendota.After a tough series loss at Purdue last weekend, another date with Goodman Diamond was all the Badgers needed in order to bounce back. While the team only showed flashes of dominance throughout the day, head coach Yvette Healy was pleased with their ability to accomplish some of their goals.“We had goals of just taking good, quality at-bats and pressuring their defense,” Healy noted. “We only did that at points in the game, but as the game got going we were able to bunt and pressure them, and it really paid off.”Since April 1, a mixture of Big Ten and non-conference opponents have journeyed into Madison, and, recently, all have returned home empty handed.With the Badgers’ last home loss more than a month behind them, Goodman Diamond is quickly becoming known as another Badger venue, like Camp Randall and the Kohl Center, that rarely relinquishes road victories.The Badgers average nearly seven runs per game when playing at home, a stat in which any pitcher can take great pleasure.“We just really play our game when we’re at home,” junior pitcher Meghan McIntosh said. “We just try to go out there and play Wisconsin softball, and when we do that, we are in a good position.”The home turf generally provides the same bounces seen in practice, so winning at home does usually always come as a surprise. Setting records with each victory stands for recognition, however, and any team that ventures to Goodman seems to have more than just a tough opponent stacked against them.The pending opportunity to set a record each time they take the field drives the Badgers to win, regardless of the opponent.“[Playing at home] I feel like we definitely can beat anybody,” third baseman Shannel Blackshear claimed. “There definitely is something about being on your home field that makes you want to fight for it.”Wisconsin will have another opportunity to build that record this weekend when Big Ten leader Michigan travels to Madison. Building off their doubleheader success, the Badgers are riding some home momentum, and can see themselves shocking one of the Big Ten’s best teams.“Michigan is the powerhouse. They’re a great legacy program,” Healy said. “I think we’re in a nice position to surprise people and maybe pull off some upsets.”McIntosh steadies Phoenix’s chargeNot everything came easy for the Badgers in their doubleheader sweep. The Phoenix began the second game with a pair of first inning runs on two hits, forcing coach Healy into trying starter Meghan McIntosh on the mound.“I never felt like we had to pull her, I just wanted the focus to be there,” Healy said. “Collectively, I don’t think we started as focused as we needed to.”Just when signs were pointing toward a split for the Badgers, McIntosh settled in striking out the final batter of the inning, delivering a great performance following the rocky start.An aggressive Green Bay lineup built some momentum, but McIntosh surrendered only three additional hits and zero runs through six innings of work. For her, it was a simple adjustment that made all the difference.“I really started getting ahead in the count and began hitting my locations,” McIntosh said. “I began to really jam them and was able to get them to ground out to Shannel [Blackshear] at third.”Typically not a strikeout pitcher – McIntosh struck out only two batters – she let her defense go to work behind her, and their errorless game proved to be enough for a victory.The win brings McIntosh’s season record to 7-5, and was her third in the last two weeks against non-conference opponents. As the Badgers approach their last stretch of games, consistency from the Badgers’ second pitcher is exactly what coach Healy is looking for.“I’m glad that she didn’t lose her head out there,” Healy said. “It is good for all our pitchers to face those tough situations, and when we head into our last series against Michigan and Nebraska, we’re going to need all of our pitchers to perform.”As the most experienced pitcher on staff, McIntosh’s leadership and success allow Healy to maintain confidence heading toward the end of the season.“She is a great leader for us,” Healy said. “She has worked hard to become an emotional leader for this team, and it definitely goes a long way.”last_img

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