Oct. 2, 2013
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MADISON, Wis. – Fresh of its best season in program history, the Wisconsin softball team has put together it most difficult schedule yet. The Badgers, who were 2013 Big Ten tournament champions, have scheduled to play over a dozen games against opponents who were NCAA tournament qualifiers a year ago.
“It is the hardest schedule we have put together at Wisconsin,” head coach Yvette Healy said. “The fact that we have Florida, Texas A&M, and all of the ranked teams makes this one of the most difficult schedules.”
Wisconsin’s 2014 schedule starts at South Florida against World Series qualifier Florida. The tournament also features games against South Florida, an NCAA tournament qualifier in 2013, and Illinois State, a top-50 RPI team a year ago.
“We are challenging ourselves this year,” Healy continued. “Our goals are higher than they have ever been. We are taking shot at playing a schedule that will prepare us from the World Series.”
The Badgers’ tough schedule continues on the road at Texas A&M where they will face the Aggies, 2013 Super Regional qualifiers, twice.
“We know that early success won’t be simple. We are hoping the tough schedule will be an investment in seeing what the best teams look like and gauge what we need to do to be prepared at the end of the season.”
Trips to Fullerton, Calif. and Louisville, Ky., pose an opportunity to face even more top teams. During the 2013 season, the Badgers played Stanford and California, both NCAA tournament qualifiers, at Cal-State Fullerton, while facing North Carolina, an NCAA tournament team, at the Louisville Tournament. UW’s game against Louisville, the No. 19 ranked team in the 2013 final USA Today/NFCA poll, was cancelled due to poor weather.
“We are playing a tough schedule, and I know we are not there yet, but we will learn by fire,” Healy explained. “This schedule will give us a test early of what we need to do to be prepared for Michigan on the road at the end of the season. It provides a tough starting point.”
The competition does not relax when the Badgers open Big Ten Conference play. Northwestern, Iowa and Minnesota were all ranked in the top-50 in the final RPI of the 2013 season. Nebraska and Michigan both played in the Women’s College World Series, providing the Badgers with a tough regular season finale.
“We are willing to take lumps early on to give confidence to play ranked opponents later in the season,” Healy added.
The season culminates at the 2014 Big Ten Softball Tournament in Evanston, Ill., with an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament on the line.
Badgers’ Opponent Quick Hits
Florida: Ranked No. 5 in 2013 USA Today/NFCA final poll … lost in quarterfinal of College World Series … captured SEC regular season and tournament titles … won 58 games.
USF: Ranked No. 35 in 2013 final RPI … lost in NCAA Regional … earned Big East tournament title … won 45 games.
Texas A&M: Ranked No. 13 in 2013 USA Today/NFCA final poll … lost in NCAA Super Regional … won 42 games.
Minnesota: Ranked No. 32 in 2013 final RPI … lost in NCCA Regional … advanced to Big Ten tournament championship … won 36 games.
Nebraska: Ranked No. 8 in 2013 USA Today/NFCA final poll … lost in College World Series … won 45 games.
Michigan: Ranked No. 6 in 2013 final USA Today/NFCA poll … lost in semifinal of College World Series … won Big Ten regular season title … advanced to semifinal of Big Ten tournament … won 51 games.