Spartans shut out by Chippewas
The MSU softball team stranded 12 runners on base during Wednesday's nonconference matchup with Central Michigan, and it cost them dearly. The Spartans were shut out, 3-0, at Old College Field.
The Chippewas opened the scoring early. Leadoff batter Tracy Kaatz reached first base on an infield single, stole second base, then made her way to the plate on consecutive ground balls, giving her team a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Central Michigan's bats continued to work in the top of the fourth inning. With runners on the corners and two out, MSU junior pitcher Lesley Noel gave up a double to Chippewas outfielder Christina Novak, expanding Central Michigan's lead to 3-0. MSU senior pitcher Rachel Turney promptly relieved Noel, but the damage had been done.
"We made some defensive mistakes that won't show up in the final stats, but that really cost us the game," MSU head coach Jacquie Joseph said. "There were two miscues plays that we didn't defend correctly."
Finally, in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Spartans threatened. Central Michigan's Jill DeRoche walked three batters, putting MSU in great position to score the Chippewas had yet to register an out.
DeRoche escaped the jam by forcing a pop-up to second, a fly-out to first and then ending with a strike out.
But, she found herself in trouble an inning later. MSU loaded the bases again, and with two outs, senior first base Dayna Feenstra a .248 hitter on the season came to the plate.
She fell behind early, but fought back, fouling off pitch after pitch. Finally, on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, she hit a hard-liner that appeared to be headed to left-center field, but it was snared out of the air by Central Michigan shortstop Stephanie Crews, ending the inning.
The Spartans still weren't done. The very next inning, MSU loaded the bases for the third time. And once again, they came away empty-handed. Sophomore catcher Kara Weigle who holds a team-high .380 batting average struck out looking to register MSU's third out.
"Central Michigan played great defense, and their pitcher did a great job pitching out of jams," Joseph said. "Teams need to find a way to win, and we did not do that today."
The loss marked the seventh shutout loss of the season for MSU.
There was a bright spot, however: Turney didn't allow a single hit in 3.1 relief innings and has allowed just one hit in her last nine innings.
"I was very happy for Rachel," Joseph said. "She's had three quality appearances."