Confidence, mental toughness and competitiveness

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In today's blog entry, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the team's success at the Wolf Pack Softball Classic and what is key for UW's top performers.

It's sunny and 78 in Madison today, as we prepare for our last spring trip. We're thrilled to practice outside on the dirt this early in the spring.

What a great weekend for Badger softball in Reno. The team went 4-1 in Nevada, batting .394. We're 10-7 overall right now, which puts us 4th in the Big Ten with our winning percentage. A few of our student-athletes are really playing well, including many of our Midwest kids.

Former New Trier (Ill.) standout Molly Spence was named Big Ten Player of the Week after batting .529 with an OPS of 1.873. Molly reached base in each game of the weekend and had three multi-hit games, including two, three-hit games. She belted four home runs on the weekend, including two in the final game against Nevada, finishing with 10 RBI.

Freshman Maria Van Abel, from Kaukauna, Wis., is leading the Big Ten in hitting, with a .459 batting average.  She's done a great job at the top of the lineup, setting the table for our big hitters. Maggie Strange, our junior catcher from Gallatin, Mo., is leading the Big Ten in throwing out runners and allowing the least number of steals against.

The key for our top performers is definitely confidence, mental toughness and competitiveness. Each of our standout athletes has the right temperament. They understand that success is a process, and the only way to achieve small victories is continued hard work, a great attitude and the overwhelming desire to succeed. Injuries, setbacks and obstacles don't faze the best student-athletes. They just continue to work hard, developing a plan for improvement each day. They refuse to fail, and emotionally invest in the success of this year's team and the Badger softball program.

We leave Thursday for Santa Barbara, Calif. We'll have five games on the road, including a big match-up on Sunday against nationally-ranked Oklahoma State. OSU returns most of their squad from last year's team that reached the 2011 Women's College World Series. They just pitched a no-hitter against Nebraska who was ranked earlier this year too. We've had great games against several ranked teams this spring, and it's time to get over the hump. This game is a great opportunity to steal a key win for our young squad.

We've seen some weekends of good pitching early this spring, and strong offense lately. We're looking forward to putting it all together this weekend, building some excitement and energy as we open up Big Ten play next weekend at Iowa.


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