Position Preview: Infield Badgers return eight to the dirt and welcome two
Stephanie Peace returns to play shortstop for the Badgers
Feb. 14, 2012
MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin infield will draw its strength from experience this season as the Badgers return starters at every infield position, including 53-game starter Shannel Blackshear at third base.
“It helps returning some experience in the infield,” said head coach Yvette Healy. “We have a lot of familiar faces on the team and in the infield this season. We’re excited to see if last season’s experience breeds confidence in our defenders.”
The left side of the infield gives the Badgers the most stability. Blackshear returns to the hot corner after starting all 53 games a year ago and 41 during her freshman campaign.
“Shannel has the ability to be an elite player in our program. She has worked hard to improve her balance, agility and durability this year. If she’s healthy and confident, she will be a great leader for us.”
The Badgers bulk up the left side with the return of Stephanie Peace and Michelle Mueller at shortstop. Peace earned the start in 39 games last season, while Mueller started 14.
“Great defensive utility players like Michelle and Stephanie Peace truly make your program better, allowing your best offensive team to be on the field, while solidifying your defense. Michelle and Stephanie’s selfless approach to softball is evidenced by their ability to play wherever the team needs that, embracing each opportunity for the good of the group.”
Whitney Massey returns for the UW at second base. Massey started 24 games last season. Mueller and Peace also spent time at second base.
“Whitney has earned a starting role at second base. She has a lot of heart on the field. Her willingness to sacrifice her body to knock down balls and make big plays makes her an ideal fit in our infield.”
Mueller started 22 games at first base for the Badgers a year ago and it is that versatility that the Badgers will rely on again this year.
“Michelle is a great utility player for us. She has the ability to play any infield position. As we work through numerous injuries, Michelle will give us the experience and depth we need to keep the best offensive players on the field.”
Thirty-game starter, Maggie Strange, returns to lead the Badgers behind the plate.
“Maggie became one of the most feared arms in the Big Ten last season, gunning runners down in critical situations late in the season. She is an extremely hard worker who keeps getting better. She’s a physical presence behind the plate. We have a lot of confidence in her ability to throw runners out and make big plays at the plate.”
Wisconsin opens the 2012 season at the USF Tournament in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 17-19. The Badgers are scheduled to play five games over three days, kicking off the season against Drake on Feb. 17 at noon.