The Badgers enjoyed their share of success in 2013-14 and now UWBadgers.com is honoring the best student-athletes, teams and performances of the year. Over the next few weeks, we'll unveil the best of the Badgers in five categories: Big Ten Medal of Honor (June 16), Athletes of the Year (June 17-21), Team Achievements of the Year (June 22-27), Games of the Year (June 28-July 5) and Freshmen of the Year (July 13-18).
Today we feature softball advancing to the regional championship as a Team Achievement of the Year nominee.
June 26, 2014
MADISON, Wis. – “Stick with us. Buy in. Believe. Work hard.” That’s what Wisconsin softball head coach Yvette Healy told the four now graduated seniors when she got the job in 2010. Together, they did just that and built a lasting legacy from their 2014 campaign.
Having just concluded her third season as head coach at Wisconsin with a program-best 44 wins, Healy was ready to lead her team to the NCAA tournament in back-to-back campaigns. The achievement had only been done once before in the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
Despite facing the most difficult schedule in school history, UW finished its historic season fourth in the Big Ten for the second-straight year and third time ever. The Badgers’ 15 conference wins became the second-most in program history behind the 16 triumphs from the 2013 campaign.
The Badgers advanced to the regional championship for the second time in school history after a comeback win over Albany. After falling into a 4-0 hole, things looked bleak until Stephanie Peace’s solo home run in the top of the fourth inning gave the team the spark they needed. Next up, Chloe Miller hit a solo blast to centerfield and the Badgers were back on track. The back-to-back home runs pulled the score up to 4-2. Miller blasted her second homer of the night in the bottom of the seventh to bring in two more runs and give UW the lead they needed to finish off Albany with an 8-4 victory.
UW’s tournament run would end just where it had a year prior, however, in Eugene, Oregon, as the Badgers fell 6-0 to top-ranked Oregon in the championship game.
UW finished the season with the second-highest win total (36) in school history and a pair of NCAA tournament wins for just the second time in program history matching their tournament run in 2013. The Badgers defeated six ranked opponents and tied with the 1997 team for the most top-25 wins in a season. UW has won four NCAA tournament games over the last two seasons, having just won one in the program's first 17 years of existence.
Last season marked the end of incredible careers for seniors Cassandra Darrah, Mary Massei, Michelle Mueller and Stephanie Peace, who go down in the UW history books as the winningest class at 144-75. The future is still bright with notable returnees such as freshmen Chloe Miller and Sara Novak, who both earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week accolades this season.