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Culture of tenacity

In today's blog entry, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the team's doubleheader sweep at Iowa on Wednesday night. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates throughout the season.

What an amazing doubleheader sweep at Iowa Wednesday night. It was our first Big ten sweep of the 2011 season and the first time the Badgers have ever swept Iowa at Iowa. I'm so proud of this group of young women.

The Wisconsin Softball team has played with a lot of energy and passion this season. We came from behind in both wins last night in Iowa. We actually tied the record for most comeback wins in school history with 14.

As a coach, you want your athletes to play hard every game, every inning and every out. You challenge them to believe in themselves and their teammates, to fight and to never give up. That culture of tenacity is being established here in Madison, and it's one of our greatest sources of pride.

We just earned our sixth Big Ten victory Wednesday night with wins this season over Iowa, Northwestern, Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota. Whitney Massey, Mary Massei and Shannel Blackshear all had huge home runs for us. Abby Gregory provided a huge spark off the bench, utilizing her speed to score the game-winning run in the seventh inning of game one.

We're 26-19 right now as we prepare for No. 2 Michigan to come to Madison this weekend. What an exciting way to wrap up our season. We have eight games left, and we have the opportunity to play one of the best teams in the country at home to kick off the month of May! We know what a powerhouse Michigan softball is. We're thrilled to compete against one of the best teams in the country in front of our friends and family this weekend.

Overcoming a tough loss

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In today's blog entry, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the team's tough extra-inning loss to Illinois and what the team needs to do to overcome it. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates throughout the season.

What a heartbreaking loss in extra innings to Illinois today. We played our hearts out and had some huge clutch hits and pitches to give us chances to win. We pitched well and played with a ton of heart and pride. I am so proud of this group of young women. Their tenacity and fight amazes me!

I am sure all of our student-athletes and coaches are taking this loss hard. I'm sure the parents and fans are heartbroken too. When you come so close to beating top-30 teams two weekends in a row, it wears on you. These losses make you question everything. Yet just because we didn't come out on top, doesn't mean our strategy or philosophy is wrong. We didn't give anything away today. Illinois just outplayed us in extra innings. But for seven straight innings, we played tough.

McIntosh honored by Big Ten Network's Diamond Report

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Wisconsin sophomore pitcher Meghan McIntosh's 13-strikeout, shutout performance against North Dakota in game two of a doubleheader on Thursday was named the No. 4 Play of the Week on the Big Ten Network's Diamond Report, which originally aired on Sunday.

In throwing the first shutout of her career, McIntosh yielded just six hits and walked none in her sixth complete game of the year. The Sierra Vista, Ariz., native recorded a strikeout in every inning, struck out the side in the second and fanned two batters each in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

McIntosh's 13 strikeouts are the most for a Badger pitcher since Letty Olivarez tied a school record with 17 against Minnesota on May 12, 2010.

Coupled with the Badgers' 5-0 win in game one of the doubleheader, Wisconsin recorded back-to-back shutouts for the first time since April 26 and April 28 of 2006. In addition, in the doubleheader McIntosh and Cassandra Darrah combined to throw 21 strikeouts while issuing zero walks and giving up just eight hits in 14 innings of work.

Doubleheader sweep a team effort

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IMG_1731_BLOG_1.jpgIn today's blog entry, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the team's doubleheader sweep over North Dakota on Thursday night. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates throughout the season.

What an exciting night for the Badgers. We beat North Dakota 5-0 and 7-0. Freshman pitcher Cassandra Darrah set the tone in the first game pitching a two-hit shutout for her 11th win this season. Cass has thrown some great games against tough competition lately; she needed a good "W" to get some momentum. Shannel Blackshear's monster three-run home run in the sixth inning led the offense.

Sophomore pitcher Meghan McIntosh had the best game of her career, striking out 13 hitters in game two. She worked ahead, trusted her pitches and looked relaxed. Great games are even more meaningful when they come after tough losses. Meg struggled in her last two outings, so to see her respond and bounce back last night was a huge character builder.

Freshman Stephanie Peace had a huge three-run homer to lead the offensive attack in the second game, with key contributions off the bench from Kelsey Horton, Ashley Hanewich and Abby Gregory. Kelsey, Ashley and Abby were a combined 3-3, with a walk, two runs scored and two RBIs. That's great depth!

Getting that first Big Ten win

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In this week's softball blog, head coach Yvette Healy writes about how the team split with Michigan State to win its first Big Ten game of the season. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates throughout the season.

What a great win yesterday for the Badgers at Michigan State! There was a lot of tenacity and toughness displayed by Wisconsin. I am so proud of this group of young women for their determination and competitiveness. They want to win, and we're teaching them how to create momentum.

On Saturday, we lost big and only had one hit. Our staff met, and we focused on keeping things positive and light with the team. We've had a lot of teachable moments this year. Each mental error is an opportunity to teach the game, and increase our team's softball IQ so we can become better, smarter athletes.

We were losing 3-0 early at Michigan State yesterday when the weather got worse, and we were delayed one hour and 34 minutes due to rain and hail. When the game resumed, Shannel Blackshear hit a home run to start the rally. Amanda Najdek did a great job on the mound keeping Michigan State off balance.

We won 10-4 using a lot of creative coaching to bunt, steal and pressure our way back into the game. It's always fun to beat a conference opponent when you're on the road. Our team certainly loves those dramatic, come-from-behind victories this year. We're 17-13 right now after our first 30 games. It's amazing that we've only had two home games in our first 30 contests. We're looking forward to a long homestand this week!

Tough start to Big Ten play

In this week's softball blog, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the team's tough opening weekend in Big Ten play at Penn State. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates throughout the season.

We lost two heartbreakers on the road at Penn State this weekend to open Big Ten play. I was so proud of how hard the team battled and bought in to our game plan. We managed to get about 27 runners on base in two games against two of the best pitchers in the Big Ten.

Penn State is known for its pitchers. When you play on the road against two pitchers with ERAs under 2.00, you know you're in for a battle. I was so proud of our team's tenacity and grit. We scored five runs on Saturday and two on Sunday, including the go-ahead run in the 8th inning. We didn't even have our leading RBI producer on Sunday, after Mary Massei suffered a facial fracture after an outfield collision on Saturday.

Spring Break reflections

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springbreak_BLOG.jpgIn this week's softball blog, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the team's spring break to California. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates throughout the season.

What a great Spring Break! We arrived in California on Thursday and drove up the coast to Santa Barbara. Friday started with a tough loss to San Diego, but the team bounced back to beat the host team, University of California Santa Barbara. It's always tough to play teams on the road. They already had five wins at home, so it was a great "W" for us. Saturday we were able to beat San Diego, and lost a tough one to UCSB. The tournament ended in dramatic fashion with a big win over UNLV. I'm so proud of this group. They fight and battle, even when facing adversity.

Waiting is the hardest part

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In this week's softball blog, head coach Yvette Healy writes about how the team spent its week off after an opening week in Austin, Texas. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates throughout the season.

I think Tom Petty said it best, "The waiting is the hardest part."

It's been two weeks since our last games. Two weeks since our trip to Austin that we've had to break down film, assess our progress, attack our weaknesses and scout our opponents. I know everyone's bodies needed a few days off after winning four of our first six games. The University of Wisconsin is taking midterms right now too, so the team got a few extra days off over the weekend to catch up and get ahead on their studies preparing for mid-semester exams.

As a coach, I'd rather not take extra days off. Practice days are the most enjoyable for me, and game days are even better. A weekend of following scores while others are competing isn't any fun. Yet our staff works hard to maintain a little work-life balance in season, enjoying the moments we can spend with family while we're home.

Working towards your goals

In this week's softball blog, head coach Yvette Healy writes about how the team has set both team and individual goals for the season. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates throughout the season.

After a great opening weekend in Austin, Texas, winning four games, we're back working hard in Madison. One of my favorite things we did as a staff this weekend was set game goals for the team. As coaches and student-athletes, we often get caught up in the outcome instead of focusing on the process. As new staff here at Wisconsin, we know how important teaching the game is. We've spent a tremendous amount of time meeting with each student-athlete, getting to know our team on a personal level and communicating our philosophy and goals. 

Our staff understands that you don't just go out, cross your fingers, wish for good things to happen and win games. Although we are very positive and motivational, there is a lot of theory and method behind our approach. You win games by executing the fundamentals. If your team can focus on the process of getting people on base, moving runners and getting clutch performances from defenders, pitchers, and hitters when it counts, you'll win games. 

Opening weekend

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In this week's blog entry, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the team's successful opening weekend at the Texas Invitational. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates throughout the season.

What a great opening weekend for the Badger Softball team! We opened up in beautiful Austin, Texas. The weather was perfect the entire weekend, with mostly 70 degree temperatures at game time. We arrived on Wednesday night and got to practice Thursday morning on Texas' field before our opening games later that night. The team was so focused, enthusiastic and aggressive at practice; it set the tone for the entire trip.

ON WISCONSIN