Jan. 29, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- Despite the polar vortex that’s draped Madison with frigid temperatures over the past few weeks, things have begun to heat up for the Wisconsin softball team, which held its first team practice Jan. 13.
While the Badgers are unable to prepare outside for their Feb. 7 season opener vs. Florida, the team is taking advantage of indoor spaces at the newly renovated McClain Center and brand new Goodman Softball Training Center, located adjacent to Camp Randall and Goodman Diamond, respectively.
Until now, Wisconsin often wasn’t able to field groundballs on dirt until travelling West or South for its first tournament of the season. Instead the team was forced to practice their defense on field turf—a very different surface than they’re used to competing on.
But with the completion of the Goodman Softball Training Center, not only are the Badgers able to field groundballs on the exact dirt that blankets Goodman Diamond, they can also work on their swings in batting cages, strategize in the conference room and rest up in the lounge.
“Our facility is pretty unique,” UW head coach Yvette Healy said. “I’ve seen some good one’s where they have the indoor hitting, but to have the dirt, it’s really unique. I think for a Midwest team it gives us a leg up.
“We’re excited. It’s a whole new way to train and I think Wisconsin is really committed to do everything they can to make this experience great. We might have the snow and freezing weather, but we’ve got some amazing facilities and the kids play really hard.”
Following a record-setting season in which the Badgers recorded a program-best 44-13 overall record, won the Big Ten tournament title, advanced to the championship round of the NCAA regional and shattered eight team records, the training center provides Wisconsin with a luxury that will only help it to continue rising in the national ranks for years to come.
“This will be the first year that we’ve been able to play on dirt [before our first tournament],” Healy said. “The team is exciting to break in their spikes and run around on the dirt. Obviously going to Florida, Florida and South Florida are going to be outdoors practicing and playing, so they have a little bit of an advantage, but that indoor facility gets us as close as we can to being a West Coast or Southern team as possible.”
Wisconsin opens up its schedule on Feb. 7 at the USF-Wilson DeMarini Tournament in Tampa, Fla., as it battles Florida twice, USF, Illinois State and Bethune-Cookman.