Jill PetersA true team player and an extraordinary athlete, Wisconsin’s Lauren Carlini was named the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week after a stellar performance this past weekend against Indiana Friday and Purdue Saturday.Recording back-to-back career bests in assists with an average of 12.78 assists per set over two matches, Carlini led all Big Ten setters on the weekend. Friday she put up a then career high 53 assists at Indiana before beating that with 62 assists at Purdue Saturday. This is Carlini’s first Big Ten weekly honor.While she is happy with the accomplishment, Carlini said she would take this award away in a heartbeat if it could have given the Badgers two more points to win the Purdue game.“It’s all about give and take,” she said.This 6-2 freshman has continued to prove herself in the competitive Big Ten conference. Head coach Kelly Sheffield is proud of her accomplishment and how she is developing not only as a player but also a leader on the court.“I think she is doing a really good job,” Sheffield said. “She is getting more confident and comfortable being able to direct her teammates and I think that’s a tough thing … She studies her craft and she works really, really hard. It’s paying off. I see her getting a lot stronger.”Carlini jumped right into a leadership role being placed as starting setter at the beginning of the season. Since then, the 2012 National Gatorade Player of the Year has continued to prove herself and carry the team further each match.“I have learned to kind of embrace [these] roles, it is something that I have kind of had to do over the years,” Carlini said. “I’ve usually been on teams who are older than me, so I have to learn how to play that role and kind of figure out my position on the court.”Junior Courtney Thomas, a longtime teammate, played with Carlini at the same club and expressed her excitement to have this freshman join the team. Carlini looked at the other girls as mentors as they helped her transition into her leadership role. Thomas said Carlini is adjusting well to her leadership position and taking on an integral role within the team.“She is really helping out our team a lot. She’s adjusted really, really well. I would never look at her and think she is a freshman, she is very confident and that is really key … She really knows how to communicate with us.”Along with Big Ten Co-Freshman of the week, Carlini has a team-leading 14 double-doubles so far this season, making her the top freshman in the country in that category.Carlini is already looking down the road to the Big Ten Conference. She wants to win.“I just want to lead my team. We are going to take it one game at a time and that’s going to be a big thing for all of us. I hope to lead us as far as we can into that.”
After beating the Washington Huskies in game one of the weekend’s series, the Trojans lost the next two games to bring their record to 13-11 on the year.Sophomore Lars Nootbaar’s struggles at the plate continued this weekend against Washington. Austin Paik | Daily TrojanThe Trojans took game one thanks to a clutch home run by redshirt junior third baseman Angelo Armenta in the bottom of the eighth inning to seal the game by a score of 1-0. The Trojans, however, were not as fortunate in game two, losing 5-2. The Trojans were off to an early lead in the first inning when junior first baseman Dillon Paulson hit a 2-run double.However, the Huskies were able to tie the score in the second inning and get 2 runs on the board courtesy of RBIs from freshman outfielder Braiden Ward and freshman second baseman Noah Hsue.The game was tied 2-2 until the top of the fifth inning when Washington senior shortstop Levi Jordan hit a double down the leftfield line off of junior pitcher Solomon Bates to to take the game to 3-2. The game was then killed off in the seventh inning after senior designated hitter Joe Wainhouse hit a 2-run single to put the game out of reach 5-2.After their early lead, the Trojans had a hard time getting the bats going. They only managed to get four more hits the rest of the game.“We jumped early and I thought for his first start Solomon pitched fine,” head coach Dan Hubbs said after game two. “You know they answered back and did a nice job.”Sophomore outfielder Matthew Acosta and junior outfielder Lars Nootbaar played in new positions during game two. Acosta, who usually plays in center field, played in right Friday night. And Nootbaar, who usually plays in left field, played in center.“The switch is more determined on the other outfielder,” Hubbs said. “We decided to put Dubb in the outfield today and get [John Thomas] in the lineup. And he’s better suited for left field and Matthew can play either equally well, and Lars can play left and center equally well, so it was more predicated on that third outfielder than anything else.”Game three ended like game two as the Trojans lost 9-5 on Saturday despite an early lead in the first. Paulson once again got the scoring started for the Trojans as he hit a 3-run homer into right field scoring in junior second baseman Brandon Perez and Nootbaar.However, as they did in game two, the Huskies responded by putting up runs in the second inning. The Huskies scored four runs in the second inning to take the score to 4-3. The Trojans then scored one more run in the fifth inning courtesy of an RBI from Nootbaar to tie the game at 4 runs a piece. In the sixth, the Trojans retook the lead thanks to an RBI from Perez putting the Trojans up 5-4 with three innings left to play.The Trojans have relied heavily on their bullpen all season as it is one of the best parts of their team, but the bullpen gave up 5 runs in the seventh and eighth, ending the game in a loss.The Trojans also uncharacteristically made seven errors in their series against the Huskies this weekend. Prior to the series, the Trojans led the nation in fielding percentage and defending, only making 10 errors the whole year. Earlier in the season, Hubbs mentioned how this team is built around its defense and its bullpen.While Bushor has been playing exceptionally well at shortstop this season, Hubbs seemed excited about the comeback of freshman shortstop Ben Ramirez who returned for game three with a walk and a strikeout.“Well, it would be hard for us to want to move Chase off of shortstop,” Hubbs said of fitting Ramirez and Bushor into the team. “It doesn’t mean that Ben won’t be in the lineup somewhere. Or it means that Chase can play third and move over, or he can play second. I mean there’s a lot of things that we can do, or Ben can play DH. I mean there’s a ton of ways to get him into the lineup.”The Trojans will hope to return to winning ways Tuesday when they play UC Santa Barbara.