first_imgDespite struggling from the batter’s box to start the season, Wisconsin sophomore Stephanie Peace was named the Big Ten’s Player of the Week for he recent hot swing.[/media-credit]Mark down another Big Ten Player of the Week for the Wisconsin softball team – except this time it’s from an unlikely source.Stephanie Peace is the new name added to the list of Badger honorees after leading Wisconsin to an unbeaten week of six victories over the likes of Illinois-Chicago, Loyola and Minnesota.Her last name and southern accent may lead one into thinking that the Badger shortstop is just out there enjoying another day at the ballpark. Do not be deceived, however, because when Peace steps into the batter’s box, she is everything but peaceful. As of late, in fact, she has been quite ferocious.Peace entered last week with a .236 batting average but quickly caught fire, hitting .625 over the six game stretch, boosting her season total to .304.Peace’s week started with a bang against Illinois-Chicago where her fourth-inning, three-run home run broke a scoreless tie and propelled Wisconsin to a 5-0 victory. It was her first home run of the year, but not even her last of the week.Wisconsin ended the week with a stunning come-from-behind 11-10 victory over Minnesota in which Peace went 4-for-4 with another home run. She finished a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, and had it not been a dire point in the comeback, head coach Yvette Healy would have loved to see her chase that milestone.“We were in a situation where we were trying to stage a comeback and we were chasing three runs,” Healy said. “But I might have sent her just from the fact that it is such a rare thing to have happen.”Regardless of that decision, the Badgers came out on top, and Peace was eventually graced with the player of the week award. Seven was the lucky number of her week as she tallied that amount in RBIs, runs scored and extra-base hits. While the accomplishment was a great success, she remained humble while looking at the bigger team picture.“It’s a great honor, but you don’t get recognized unless the team wins,” Peace said. “I was glad I could contribute to the team and that everybody did well. It was a full team effort.”Nevertheless, there remains a correlation between the successes of Peace and the overall success of the team. Since her torrid streak began, the Badgers have averaged just fewer than seven runs per game while surrendering less than four.Though it was a slow start to the season, Peace has found her nirvana in the batters box, mainly because of her relentless work ethic. Peace was one of only a few Badgers to complete the 10,000 Hit Club program in the offseason and was noted as one of the harder workers on the team by coach Healy.The extra work has definitely paid off, and as a sophomore, Peace has many times been a catalyst in generating momentum. Her teammate and fellow infielder Whitney Massey has definitely noticed.“She really pumps everyone else up. She’ll make these great plays, and everyone just kind of feeds off her,” Massey said. “She is kind of like a flame to all of us.”Peace kept that flame lit Tuesday against Western Illinois with yet another home run, igniting the Badgers’ initial comeback. She also contributed an RBI single before scoring the game-tying run in the final frame.Her recent offensive contributions cannot be ignored, but that is barely all that she brings to the table.Nominated across the board of coaches and teammates, Peace is one of the best defenders on the team. Her .938 fielding percentage can speak for itself as a consistent middle infielder, but she is constantly wowing teammates, coaches and all viewers with highlight reel plays while playing one of softball’s toughest positions.“She is extremely athletic, and she makes some plays that, if you come to our practices, there are people singing the SportsCenter music behind her,” Healy said. “It is just jaw-dropping.”Astonishing plays are definitely Peace’s forte, but her durability and defensive leadership may be her two biggest assets. Peace, along with Massey and catcher Maggie Strange, are the only Badgers to start every game this season.This came into question as Peace tweaked her ankle running the bases this past Tuesday night against Western Illinois. After being inspected, Peace finished the game and was back at practice Wednesday with a smile on her face, a toughness by example that her teammates have noticed in her personality.“She has definitely stepped up as a leader by example,” Massey mentioned. “She’ll be the first one out here to games or practice, and usually the last one to leave. It is really setting a good example for us upperclassmen and for the new kids coming in.”With the team riding a school-record eight-game winning streak, her coaches and teammates greatly appreciate the spark Peace has provided to the offense. The hits, RBIs and home runs have all been great, but the sophomore remains hungry for further success.“We have got to keep the momentum alive and keep rolling,” Peace said. “We are working on all cylinders right now. We just have to keep improving as we go into the end of the season.”last_img

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