Wisconsin recruits: Softball’s new hope

first_imgThe Wisconsin softball team has struggled the past few years, but hope may be on the way with eight new recruits joining next season.[/media-credit]University of Wisconsin softball head coach Chandelle Schulte has a lot to be excited about come next softball season.Although she can’t lose focus on the rest of the season, as there are still seven games remaining, Schulte’s recruiting class might make her keep one eye on the future. The Badgers have compiled an overall record of 13-35 this season and have amassed only two conference victories, with one over rival Minnesota and the other over lowly Indiana. Giving hope for the future, however, are eight sparkling recruits who have signed letters of intent to play at Wisconsin — all of them supposedly with a legitimate chance to start.The headliner of the class is undoubtedly Shannel Blackshear, an infielder from Arizona who batted .460 throughout her high school career. She was twice named to the All-State team and the Adidas Futures National Camp named her one of the top 100 softball players in the country. She will have an immediate impact most likely at third base, where the Badgers have employed an array of players throughout the course of the year.“She’s an impact kid, and I think she might be our first All-American,” Schulte said. “You can go somewhere and be the tradition, or be the face of Wisconsin softball, and that kind of appealed to her.”Joining Blackshear is Meghan McIntosh, a teammate of Blackshear’s on their travel team, the Arizona Desert Thunder. An outstanding pitcher from Buena High School in Arizona, McIntosh posted a 47-12 record, threw three perfect games, boasted an ERA of 0.76 and struck out 635 batters.With senior southpaw Leah Vanevenhoven graduating, this lefty will certainly help shore up Badger pitching. She was also named to Arizona’s first team All-State twice, and she was recently selected as the Female Athlete of the Year as chosen by The Sierra Vista Herald in Arizona. Originally McIntosh had committed to Arizona State, but the Sun Devils, who won the College World Series last year, recruited more pitchers and lost out on McIntosh.“She’s thrown four no-hitters this year, and I think she just threw another one two days ago,” Schulte said.Maggie Strange, a catcher from Gallatin High School in Missouri, will provide much needed stability behind the plate. This year, the Badgers’ Dana Rasmussen was assigned the catching responsibilities, not because of her experience but more so because of her athleticism and the fact that the Badgers didn’t have any legitimate alternatives.“Maggie is very verbal and will do well at controlling the field,” Schulte said to UWBadgers.com. “She has a tremendous arm behind the plate and a strong passion for the game.”Kendall Grimm and Whitney Massey, two other recruits coming to Madison next year, are known for their explosive speed which Schulte and the Badgers have been lacking this year.“I think next year’s class will probably be the fastest team we’ve ever had,” Schulte said.After posting a 15-40 record last season to go with a 13-35 mark this year, the UW program is in need of an overhaul. Earlier this season, Schulte spoke about the selling points of Wisconsin and how the program lacked a face. In recruiting these players, she offered them the chance be that type of player and leave a lasting legacy on the team.“When I took this thing over, one of the things that was abundantly clear to me was that I change the culture of the team,” Schulte said. “Quite frankly, I underestimated how difficult that would be. Traditions are not won in a day.”When Schulte recruited Blackshear and McIntosh, both spoke of their goal to bring a College World Series championship to Madison. This newfound mentality, depicting a players’ reach exceeding farther than their grasp, hasn’t been seen in Madison under Schulte’s tenure.“I honestly believe you’re going to see a huge difference,” Schulte said. “We have kids playing in the right positions, which we haven’t had for three years, and so instead of having to teach them all over again, we can just make them better at what they already know. Talent is one thing, and they have it.”last_img

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