Spartans look to continue winning streak at home
After a successful road trip, the MSU softball team brings its season-best nine-game winning streak back to East Lansing.
With momentum under their belts, the Spartans (20-21 overall, 3-3 Big Ten) host Wisconsin (21-13, 4-4) at 4 p.m. today at Old College Field. The two teams play again Saturday, then MSU host a Sunday doubleheader against Minnesota (26-13, 3-3).
The streak is the longest since the 1999 season, when the Spartans won 10-consecutive games.
Spartan head coach Jacquie Joseph said the steak means nothing if her team doesnt break .500 in the conference.
If we are really going to be serious we have to win them all, Joseph said. I think three would also be legit. Anything less than that and were right where we started.
After a 2-1 loss to Penn State at Old College Field on March 31, the Spartans record stood at 11-21, 0-3 in conference. Since then, MSU has battled back to .500 in the conference and just one game shy of reaching .500 overall.
Joseph said the improvement can be attributed to team consistency.
Were getting much more consistent play from everybody, she said. We are getting real solid performances from every single player and thats a huge difference.
My wish is that we just continue with the same approach to the game. I think that if we do that well have more success than if we try to make this weekend out to be too much more.
Joseph has yet to name any of her starting pitchers for the weekend home stand, but said she is leaning toward sending senior right-hander Becky Gray (9-10) to the mound today.
Gray has a 2.28 ERA and leads the team with 122 strikeouts and 10 complete games.
I got some injury issues, Joseph said. Theres a good chance Becky will start. But I have to wait and see that day how shes feeling and how theyre all feeling.
Gray has been dealing with forearm pain in her pitching arm. Sophomore right-hander Jessica Beech also has experienced forearm pain in her pitching arm.
Wisconsin head coach Karen Gallagher said her starting pitcher also will be a game time decision.
After a 3-0 start in conference action, the Badgers have dropped four of their last five Big Ten games.
We just have to get them refocused, Gallagher said. If we stay mentally focused and perform the fundamentals we can get back on track.