Softball: Close encounters but mixed results for Wisconsin against Iowa

first_imgWisconsin was close, but the Badgers only had one comeback attempt in them this weekend.After coming back from a 4-1 deficit Saturday to win in walk-off fashion over Iowa, Wisconsin (17-22, 2-9 Big Ten) couldn’t complete the same feat Sunday in a 3-2 defeat in 10 innings.After hitting the game-tying home run Saturday along with pitching a complete game, Taylor Paige Stewart took the mound for the Badgers to square off against Shayla Starkenburg in a rubber match full of missed opportunities to score.In the opening frame both pitchers were in danger of giving up runs, but Iowa (14-31, 5-9) left two runners on base while Wisconsin’s Chloe Miller narrowly missed a two-run homer after flying out to the warning track.Iowa’s Alyssa Navarro capitalized on the windy day in the top of the second with a solo shot to left-center to give the Hawkeyes a 1-0 lead. Unlike her previous outing, which featured seven strikeouts in the first two innings, Stewart struggled early with command and loaded the bases with two outs in the same frame, but a pop out to center field prevented any further damage.Iowa picked up right where they left off with leadoff double from Molly Hoffman in the third. First basemen Kaitlyn Mullarkey nearly cleared the bases with a two run shot to left, but it was caught at the warning track as the Hawkeyes again stranded a runner on third.It took until two outs in the bottom of the third for Wisconsin to put a hit on the board, after Maria Van Abel legged out an infield single with no one able to cover first base. Marissa Mersch followed up with a line drive, but it went straight to third baseman Sarah Kurtz to keep Starkenburg’s shutout intact and Iowa’s lead at 1-0.Wisconsin put forth its first considerable scoring threat of the day in the bottom of the fourth, after a leadoff triple to right-center from Kelsey Jenkins brought up the looming possibility of a tie game. After two consecutive outs, Ashlee Van Zeeland capitalized with an RBI single right up the middle to even the score, just the third hit of the game by the Badgers.A single by Navarro loaded the bases up for the Hawkeyes with just one out in the top of the fifth, which allowed Erin Erickson to drive home the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to right field. But a strikeout stranded runners at the corners as Stewart kept the damage to just one run going into the bottom of the frame.Wisconsin was in position to tie the game back up in the bottom of the fifth with two runners on and two outs, but its efforts were cut short when Van Abel was thrown out trying to steal home. Iowa catcher Hoffman quickly noticed the attempt and got in position to make the easy tag.With Wisconsin still trailing in the last of the seventh, Megan Tancill tripled to jumpstart the game-tying rally. After Starkenburg struck out the next two hitters, it looked as if Wisconsin might come up short with a runner in scoring position again. But Mersch stepped up with an infield single, just barely beating the throw, as the Badgers tied the game at two. With Mersch on third, Starkenburg kept her team alive with a strikeout to end the inning and send the contest into extras.In a game where both teams combined to leave 32 runners on base, Van Zeeland believes it’s important to keep things in perspective with so many games in a season.“The coaches always tell us to learn from games like this,” Van Zeeland said. “We had a lot of little mistakes that we can fix, so if we just come together as a group and stay with it. We’ll be fine.”With the bases loaded for Iowa in the top of the eighth, shortstop Megan Blank made a crucial play for Wisconsin with a throw to home plate to get the lead runner and keep the game tied. Katie Christner then came up with a full speed catch, crashing hard against the fence afterwards to end the top of the frame in style and help UW escape danger.Just like the Hawkeyes, the Badgers found themselves with the bases loaded and just one out in the bottom of the eighth, with the winning run for the game and the series just 60 feet away. It was the defense again, however, that seized the moment with a strikeout and groundout keeping the Hawkeyes in business.They finally capitalized on that in the top of the 10th inning.A towering homerun from Megan Blank over the right field fence gave Iowa a 3-2 lead, an advantage that they wouldn’t relinquish. The Badgers made the last out of the game on the base paths, with pinch runner Brianna Flugaur trying to advance to third on an infield grounder. On the same play, Van Zeeland was on third and would’ve come across to score if it were not for the out.Despite the disappointing outcome for her team, UW head coach Yvette Healey emphasized the positives moments where her players stepped up in big moments instead of dwelling on their shortcomings at the end of the contest.“It’s a heartbreaker. We got a great performance out of Taylor [Stewart], which is wonderful to see. I think that’s super important, and she threw a great game. We’re proud of her,” Healey said. “Their hero just came up bigger than ours. Megan Blank is their big kid, and she stepped up when it counted. A lot of our best kids had the shot, but we just didn’t convert. I’m proud of the kids that did convert.”Game 1Iowa set the tone early in the series opener, rattling freshman starting pitcher Mariah Watts to the tune of five runs in a third of an inning. Hoffman recorded two hits in the first inning alone, with three RBIs in the process. The Hawkeyes scored 10 total runs in the first inning, as Wisconsin managed only four runs in the 16-4 final.Game 2Following a two RBI double by Hoffman and two-run home run off the bat of Mullarkey in a third inning, the Badgers found themselves in a 4-1 hole in the bottom of the sixth inning. With opportunities waning, Mersch delivered an RBI single, followed up by a sacrifice fly from Miller to chip down the deficit to one. A scoreless frame by Iowa in the top of the seventh left the Badgers needing one run, which was delivered by Stewart’s first career homer to tie the game. Van Abel’s walk-off fielders choice gave Wisconsin the stunning comeback victory.last_img read more

Helping Nigeria’s Players’ Union Thrive

first_imgHowever, certain activities of a few members of the union have of late given rise to the need to examine some features of trade unionism as enshrined in the country’s laws and also compare notes with activities of similar unions globally. The understanding derived from this will no doubt help the union and their members to properly channel their energies to attain beneficial conditions for both players and their employers-clubs.To paraphrase the Trade Unions Act, Cap 432, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 20 a trade union is any combination of worker or employer, whether temporary or permanent, the purpose of which is to regulate the terms and conditions of employment of workers. Unions are not necessarily set up to antagonize employers but to support employers to provide the best possible working conditions for their members. We won’t go into the history of modern day trade union activism which could be traced to Solidarity, the Polish workers union led by Lech Walesa, who will eventually rise to become President of Poland.Some scholars have narrowed the membership of Trade Unions to state services but the Trade Union Amendment Act, 2005 by the National Assembly was very clear on membership of unions and, in sub-section 4, states that, “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Act, membership of a trade union by employees shall be voluntary and no employee shall be forced to join any trade union or be victimized for refusing to join or remain a member”.The above background has been set to properly situate on-going agitation by NANPF on myriad issues, including the foisting of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on the LMC for all players of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL). The Union is in a hurry to run without, as it were, first crawling, as it has yet to establish that it has the mandate of the players and clubs of NPFL and Foreign-based Nigerian players to represent them. Also, how would signing such an agreement benefit players based outside the country and those who are no longer actively playing in the NPFL?To assist NANPF comply with the sub-section 4 of the Trade Union Act, the body should as a matter of urgency provide a membership form to all players in the NPFL and those abroad that they can reach for completion and creation of a data base of members. Remember that the quoted section states that membership is voluntary and it is very possible not every player will be disposed to joining, as membership will also attract dues.Prior to this, NANPF should through their state chapters embark on enlightenment campaigns to educate the NPFL players on the imperatives or benefits of joining the union and the requisite modalities. They should take advantage of national team matches to reach out to some of the foreign-based players to share the same message and eventually provide identification cards with registration number to those who subscribe. The present posturing of forced representation flies in the face of the law and a constructive approach to the NFF and LMC can facilitate this process.It is after this has been established that NANPF can approach the respective clubs (employers) of the players and not the LMC for deductions from the wages of every member to be paid into the union account. This is in compliance with Section 16a & b of the Trade Unions. Act viz, “Upon the registration and recognition of any trade union specified in the Third Schedule to this Act, an employer shall-(a) Make deduction from the wages of the every worker who is a member of any of the trade unions for the purpose of paying contributions to the trade union so registered; and(b) Remit such deductions to the registered office of the trade union within a reasonable period or such period as may be prescribed from time to time by the RegistrarWe are in a country governed by laws and it will not be right for any group to knowingly or ignorantly side-step the laid down laws. The cause of NANPF will be greatly helped if it focuses more on due process than on anticipated benefits. The union has had a chequered history that has at some point threw up factions. It endured such in-fighting that was not helped by the repudiation of their international affiliation by the global Professional Football Players Association (FIFPRO).The issue of CBA is one that the union needs also to approach from a knowledge-based agitation that will yield the expected result. Again, the Trade Unions act is clear on the process of collective bargaining. Subsection 24 (1) of the act states “for the purposes of collective bargaining all registered Unions in the employment of an employer shall constitute an electoral college to elect members who will represent them in negotiations with the employer”.It is also important that NANPF should sign a CBA with a body that can enforce such agreement. The LMC is not the employer of players and does not pay their salaries but NANPF has provided in their draft CBA for LMC to remit to the union, the dues to be deducted from NPFL players’ salaries. The CBA can only be rightly signed with individual clubs or association of club owners for it to be enforceable while the LMC and NFF can only play the role of supervisor. As has been argued elsewhere, the Trade Union Congress to which NANPF belongs cannot go to the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to sign a CBA for their members that will be binding on all telecommunication network operatorsAgain, the draft CBA contains a requirement for the LMC to allocate 10 percent of its total earnings to NANPF as royalty, another idea that is neither supported by existing realities nor any precedence anywhere in the world. The NPFL revenue share of the 20 clubs from sponsorship cannot deliver even 10 percent of the running cost of the clubs that bears the brunt of the wages of the players and coaches. It will be in the interest of NANPF leadership and the players if they work with the LMC to create an enabling platform to generate more revenue for the league such that the clubs’ share will be enough to improve the welfare of their players and in turn ensure regular contributions to the union purse by the subscribing members.The present circumstance is that the activities of NANPF is shrouded and thus breeds suspicion in the minds of the players they seek to represent. There must be real effort to sell the vision of NANPF to the young and active segment of their target membership and they should also recruit the highly visible and successful ex-players who the young ones identify as role models to sell their package. The cartel-like mode of operation should be transformed to an all embracing and all-inclusive approach. The labour of our players will not pass unrewarded.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Duro IkhazuagbeFollowers of the domestic football in Nigeria must have felt some relief when the combatant members of the factional players’ union came together under the umbrella of National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers (NANPF) led by Dahiru Sadi as President and Austin Popo as Secretary. It saw the absorption of the likes of ex internationals like Clement Temile, Larry Kubeinje and others into different strata of leadership in the unified body.A lot of credit must go to the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), led by Amaju Pinnick, which continued from where the last board, led by Aminu Maigari, stopped in resolving the divisions within the ranks of the union members. On another level, the League Management Company (LMC), the superintendent body of the league where majority of the active members of the union are drawn from, keyed into the NFF intervention to support various activities that aimed to solidify the new found unity and also position the union to the role of a true players’ representatives.last_img read more