Badger Bits: Softball coach turns program around in improbable fashion

In just two seasons, head coach Yvette Healy has Wisconsin in contention for an NCAA tournament bid. Photo credit: uwbadgers.com

It is tough to imagine just two years ago the Wisconsin women's softball program found itself in the midst of a tailspin, capping off a disappointing 20-win season and firing its head coach. Now, the softball team finds itself with a legitimate chance to make the NCAA tournament, something that would have been inconceivable at that time.

In just her second season as head coach, Yvette Healy must be given credit for turning the program around in such a short period of time. Healy inherited a mess of a situation after former head coach, Chandelle Schulte, was fired following the 2010 season. To illustrate the dismal state of Badger softball during that time, check out this report of Schulte's firing. After amassing a 99-153 record in five seasons, Schulte further distanced herself from the team when she cancelled the annual year-end banquet and refused to resign when asked to by the athletic department.

It is obvious why the school had no choice but to fire Schulte and bring aboard Healy for the following season.

In her first season, Healy quickly made her impact felt, improving the Badgers' win total by ten games and creating a positive atmosphere within the team. This season, Wisconsin further surpassed expectations and finds itself with an opportunity to make the NCAA tournament heading into the final weekend of the season.

Even with three games remaining, the Badgers already own a 33-17 season record and have set their fair share of school records this year as well. They recently won 13 straight home games and notched their 12th conference win of the season, marking two new UW softball records.

More than stats or records, Healy provides Wisconsin with a positive energy that is contagious within the team. In talking with her a few times this season, it is apparent she tries to make the game fun for her players and not get overly consumed by the competitiveness of the sport — providing a breath of fresh air after Schulte's five years at the helm.

The Badgers now enter their final weekend of the regular season with a three-game series at the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Regardless if postseason dreams come to fruition or not, there is no question Healy quickly turned around the program and has them headed in the right direction.

Here are Healy's comments from this Monday's press conference about the possibility of postseason play:

"We're on the bubble and we're excited about it. I think our destiny is in our own hand and the fact we're still having conversations of what's next and are we still going to be playing, that's an exciting thing."

Tuesday's Links:

The Badgers are well represented in Tom Dienhart's rankings of his top tandems at each position in the Big Ten.

What would tick off Wisconsin fans more than facing Marquette with Vander Blue? Probably facing a Marquette team with Vander Blue and Jarrod Uthoff. Yup, that's right. Nothing has been decided yet, but the Badger transfer is set to visit the school soon.

In other major basketball news in Milwaukee, Marquette added former Arizona State star, Trent Lockett, to its roster. Entering his last year of eligibility, Locket wanted to transfer closer to home (he lives in a suburb of the Twin Cities) when he found his mother was diagnosed with cancer.

ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg examines who could challenge Montee Ball for Offensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten.

Wisconsin men's hockey makes more offseason headlines with two more Badgers transferring, demonstrating why Andy Baggot says the roster is far from a finished product.

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