Now that the BB Tournament Bracket is about to be released and most of us will pick Michigan to win the NC, the Softball Team has completed its OOC schedule and awaits the start of the B1G schedule. All B1G SB Teams begin conference play this weekend. We host Purdue Friday at 4pm.
The B1G is not known as a SB conference. Last year only us and NW made it to the NCAA Tourney. This year might be a little different. Of the top 5 teams that will contend for the B1G Title, I predict 3, if not 4, teams make the NCAA Tourney. The five teams are us, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
We will win the B1G Title because we have the best, well-rounded team. We have the 2 best pitchers in the conference, great hitting, team speed, and power. Our only downside is that we are a very young team. The four pitchers are So. (Haylie & Sara), Fr. (Alice), and Sr.(Stephanie). We have 2 Freshman (Romero & Lawrence) in the starting lineup. The only stating Seniors are Amy and Ashley.
NEBRASKA (18-5): The has a team BA of .295 with 27 HRs. This puts them at #6 compared to the other B1G. They are led by Brooke Thomason with a .378 BA. The pitching staff is ranked #2. They have an ERA of 1.67 and an Opp BA of .201. Nebraska uses a two-platoon system with Emily Lockman has a 1.36 ERA through 67.0 innings pitched and Tatum Edwards has a 1.92 ERA through 76.2 innings pitched. Nebraska will need to improve their hitting. The team speed is not good either. They are 19 for 25 in stolen bases which is near the bottom compared to the other B1G teams.
NORTHWESTERN (14-10): The team as a BA of .300 with 20 HRs. This ranks them at #4 offensively coming into B1G play. NWU are led by Andrea DiPrima with a .368 BA. The pitching staff has an ERA of 2.51, Opp BA of .222 and they have given up 4 HRs. This ranks them #7 in pitching. They are led by Amy Latourneau, who has a 1.70 ERA through 90.2 innings pitched. NWU will need to improve their pitching. Team speed is not very good either as they are 22-31 in stolen bases.
OHIO STATE (17-8): has a team BA of .312 with 17 HRs. This ranks the Bucks #2 in Team Batting. The Bucks are led by Taylor Watkins with a .413 BA. The pitching staff has an ERA of 2.52, Opp BA of .245 and they have 16 HRs surrendered. This puts them 8th. The Bucks Pitching Ace is Alex DiDonenico. She has a 1.34 ERA through 57.2 innings pitched. The Bucks will have to rely on Alex to carry the team on her arm. If Alex gets into trouble or injured, the Bucks are roasted.
WISCONSIN (22-3): has a team BA of .332, and 19 HRs. This puts the Badger Offense as #1 compared to the other B1G teams thus far. They are led by Mary Massei with a .446 batting average. The pitching squad as an overall ERA of 1.54, Opp BA of .225, and only 5 HRs surrendered. This puts them at #1 in pitching thus far. The Badgers Pitching is led by Cassandra Darrah. She as a 1.32 era through 90.1 Innings Pitched. Wisconsin has it all: great hitting and pitching. The key will be can they keep the intensity and avoid injury. We do not play Wiskey this year so that will be a disappointment.
The Rest of the Pack:
Indiana (15-13) has a team BA of .257 with 13 HRs. The Hoosiers are led by Amanda Wagner with a .433 BA. The pitching staff has an Opp BA of .290, and has given up 19 HRs. Indiana uses a two-platoon system with Lora Olson (2.12 ERA through 62.2 innings pitched) and Ace (and our nemesis) Meaghan Murphy. She has an ERA of 2.92 through 88.2 innings pitched. Meaghan has our number over the past 2 years; hopefully, not this year.
Iowa (17-6) has a team BA of .271 with 13 HRs. The Hawk offense is led by Jr. Kayla Massey who has a team leading batting average of 391 and tied for team lead with 5 HRs. The pitching staff has an Opp of .229 and given up 13 HRs. Iowa has their version of Sara Driesenga in Massey. Not only does she lead the offense, she is also the pitching Ace. She has an ERA of 2.68 through 75.2 IP. In case Massy gets into trouble, Iowa will lean on Chelsea Lyon, who has an ERA of 2.10 through 63.1 innings pitched.
Minnesota (15-9) has a team BA of .242 with 21 HRs. They are led by Kaitlyn Richardson .478/18 RBIs. The pitching is led by Sara Moulton. She has a 1.01 ERA through 125 Innings Pitched. Sara is currently leading all B1G pitchers so Minny will certainly be in the middle of the pack. However they are last in team BA.
Illinois (10-11) has a team batting average of .259 with only 6 HRs. They are led by Alex Booker with a .393 BA. The pitching staff has an Opp BA of .232 and has given up 11 HRs. They us a two-platoon system with Pepper Gay and Shelese Arnold. Gay has an ERA of 3.83 through 71.1 Innings Pitched. Arnold has a 1.94 era through 54.0 IP. Pitching is a big problem for Illinois. They have walked more (112) than they have struck out (103). I would hate to be the pitching coach for the Illini.
Purdue (11-15) has a team BA of .263 and has only 5 HRs thus far this year. They are a One-Trick-Pony; Andie Varsho, who is leading the team in 3 categories BA .425/11 RBIs/12 HRs. The team pitching has a combined ERA of 2.47. They are led by Lilly Fecho who has a respectable ERA of 1.82 through 69.1 Innings Pitched. Purdue relies on Varsho to come through. The B1G has some very good pitching this year so it will be easy to pitch around Varsho. Expect Purdue to finish in the bottom tier this year.
Penn State (7-15) has a respectable team BA of .298 and has 20 HRs which is very good. The majority of their offensive production comes from Cassidy Bell. Bell leads the team in BA .459, HRs 12 and RBIs 29. Like Purdue, Bell will not get much of a chance to hit this year. I would expect her numbers to go down as we move into the B1G season. The Pitching staff is the worst of the B1G Teams. It has an ERA of 6.97 and opp BA of .315. This is not a typo, six earned runs per 7 innings should be illegal. The pitching leader is Macy Jones. Jones has an ERA of 4.22 through 59.2 innings pitched.
Last but not least is Michigan State (13-11). I think sparty will be slightly better than Illinois at the bottom of the B1G this year. MSU has a team BA of .280 which is about in the middle of the pack. They are led by Kylene Hopkins with a BA of .434. This is very good for an OOC stat. However, the competition is less than what the B1G has to offer. The pitching staff is in the bottom tier. They have an ERA of 2.88 with an Opp BA of .245. They are led by Kelly Smith with a 2.25 ERA through 105.2 innings pitched.