Offensive outburst in 3rd propels UW to victory

first_imgAfter losing two Friday to Michigan, the Wisconsin softball team got off to another slow start in Sunday’s first game against Penn State.That all changed in the third inning.With two outs and a runner on base, the Badgers rallied for six runs on five hits, including a pair of two-run doubles by left fielder Valyncia Raphael and shortstop Lynn Anderson.“Coach [Schulte] started the inning off as, ‘You make a choice to play down or you make a choice to play well,’” Raphael said. “She kind of challenged us to step up and we did.”With the double, Raphael moved into a tie with Minnesota’s Shannon Stemper for second place in the Big Ten in doubles with four in conference play.The six runs scored in the third were the most scored by the Badgers in a single inning since March 22 against East Carolina at the Stanford Invitational II.Wisconsin also matched its season high in hits with 11 and set a new season best with three doubles on its way to an 8-3 victory in the first game Sunday.“We were just being aggressive at the plate,” Anderson said. “They were throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes, so we were trying to jump on that and we did well.”The offensive breakout was a noticeable improvement from Friday’s first game with Michigan, which saw Wisconsin strike out 15 times, the most in a single game this season.“I don’t think we were really aware that we had a season high in strikeouts,” Anderson said. “That was in the past, and today was a new day. We just came out and hit I guess.”Much of the Badgers’ offensive success came as a result of increased aggressiveness.In the third inning, Raphael’s double came on a 3-0 count with head coach Chandelle Schulte giving her the sign to swing away. Following the double, Raphael stole third and scored on an error by the third baseman.“[We had] lots of hits and runs, lots of steals, lots of just being aggressive,” Schulte said. “We were going to be aggressive and make them throw us out, [hoping for] exactly what happened from second to third stealing, hoping they’ll throw the ball away.”Badger starting pitchers struggleAfter allowing one run in the first inning of game one Sunday, Leah Vanevenhoven walked the first Penn State hitter she faced in the second inning.That was enough for the Wisconsin coaches to give her the quick hook and bring in Letty Olivarez in relief.“It was a pattern that we saw in her pitching that we’ve seen before,” Schulte said. “She gets behind, she starts throwing the ball a little wild and it gets out of control real fast — we can’t afford that.”In the Badgers’ second game Friday with Michigan, Olivarez was removed in the second inning after allowing three runs. Olivarez would later return to the circle in the sixth to finish the game for Wisconsin following struggles by Vanevenhoven and freshman Kristyn Hansen.In the first three games of the weekend, Wisconsin’s starters — Vanevenhoven and Olivarez — compiled two outings of one inning and one of 1 1/3 innings.In those innings, the two combined to allow nine total runs with seven of them being earned.Yet, in Sunday’s final game, Vanevenhoven went the distance, allowing only two runs — both unearned — on four hits and two walks.“Honestly, we don’t know who to start right now,” Schulte said. “It’s a guessing game, and we seem to be guessing wrong. Whoever we start, it lasts about two innings, we take them out and then the next kid comes in and does very well.”last_img

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