Stop me if you have heard this story before: A Purdue program is promised a new facility and it is in the process of being built, but said team goes on a tear and is having possibly its best season ever, but it plays on a field that is worse than many high school fields in the area.
Two years ago it was the baseball program, but this season the women's softball program, the last team to receive a brand new facility (which is being built out by Alexander Field and should be done for next season) is in the midst of a season that may end in the first Big Ten championship for the program.
As of this writing Purdue is only 25-21-1, but just completed a 3-2 afternoon win over No. 3 Michigan to move to 12-4 in the Big Ten. That has them in second place behind the Wolverines at 14-2 with a second game against Michigan coming this afternoon. Purdue finishes the year at Wisconsin (27-15, 9-5) before hosting Minnesota (33-8, 11-5) in the final games ever at the current softball complex. The Big Ten Tournament is May 8-11 at Northwestern.
The program is under the direction of first-year head coach Kim Schuette, and she is trying to get Purdue back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 and just the third time ever. They have already surprised last season's 23-32, 8-15 record. This year they have beaten No. 10 Texas and No. 3 Michigan and the tie came against N0. 13 Louisiana-Lafayette.
Andie Varsho, the daughter of former Cubs player Gary Varsho, leads the team with an impressive .448 batting average and four home runs. Danielle Fletcher is batting .354 with eight homers and Ashley Burkhardt is batting .347 with eight homers. As a team Purdue has hit 34 longballs, which is quite impressive. Lilly Fecho is handling most of the pitching duties and is 18-10 headed into today.
Purdue still has some work to do, as the overall RPI was at 80 headed into this week's games and is likely not quite high enough to get into the NCAA tournament without winning the Big Ten. The victory over Michigan (No. 7 in the RPI) will help greatly, as would any wins over Minnesota (No. 17) and Wisconsin (No. 50). Northwestern and Nebraska can add strength in the Big Ten Tournament.
So let's give these ladies a little support. A strong finish could mean the new softball stadium opens with a Big Ten championship.