Loyola next on Spartans 11-game road trip
Before the MSU softball team returns to Big Ten play this weekend, the Spartans play Loyola today in nonconference action.
MSU (21-26 overall, 3-7 Big Ten) will travel to Chicago for a 5 p.m. start at Loyola Softball Park.
Senior pitcher Becky Gray said the Ramblers (13-17, 4-0 Horizon League) should provide a good preparation game for the Spartans return to Big Ten action this weekend. MSU travels to Iowa City for Friday and Saturday games, then wraps up the weekend with Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.
Itll be a good preparation for Iowa, Gray said. Just to get us back on track with everything and really go after them.
MSU split a doubleheader with Oakland on Tuesday at OU Softball Field, winning the first game 4-0 and dropping the second 4-2. Loyola is the third of an 11-game road trip.
Spartan head coach Jacquie Joseph said the road trip isnt enjoyable. But she said Michigan weather forces her to set the schedule that way in advance.
Thats just the nature of the way our schedule is, Joseph said. Someday we hope to get the season moved further back into June. If that could happen then we could spread these games out more.
Lately, the weather hasnt been an issue. And the Spartan hitters are beginning to take advantage.
MSU showed some signs of improvement against the Grizzlies (16-29-1), getting 12 hits in the two games. That total more than doubled MSUs output of five hits against Minnesota in Sundays doubleheader.
Joseph said it was good to see the players be more aggressive offensively, but she expects even more production today.
It was good to see us get the ball in play a little bit more, Joseph said. I dont think its quite good enough, yet, but I hope that we can get a little bit more action against Loyola.
Expecting an offensive outburst may be a little much. The Ramblers (13-17) will send pitcher Sarah Smith (6-9, 2.24 ERA) to the mound. Smith is holding opposing batters to a .200 batting average.
Rambler head coach Stephenie Henderson said Loyola shouldnt be intimidated by playing a Big Ten team. MSU marks the third Big Ten school the Ramblers have faced this season.
Loyola lost to Wisconsin 9-1 and Indiana 3-2. The Ramblers were on the road for both of those contest, but will get the Spartans at home, where they boast a 4-1 record.
Were a very scrappy team, Henderson said. We like to be aggressive and push it and try to score runs.