After slow start to weekend, Spartans blast Badgers out of park with blazing bats in Big Ten home opener
Somebody had her Wheaties.
Senior outfielder Nikki Nicosia tallied a hat trick of home runs, and freshman shortstop Bianca Mejia blasted two out of the park in Sunday’s doubleheader against Wisconsin.
After losing their first two games against Minnesota, the Spartans were ready to “get even” and end their Big Ten opening weekend on a positive note.
The result? An 8-2 victory in the first game and a 4-0 shutout in the second.
“I was thrilled to get even,” MSU head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “I felt we played so poorly on Friday and Saturday and didn’t have the right mental approach. I’m thrilled we came out today.”
Without strong pitching, hitting and defense, it’s impossible to be successful in Big Ten play, she added.
“We played well enough in all three aspects to win,” Joseph said.
“On Friday and Saturday we were not nearly good enough offensively I’m satisfied in the sense that we blew the first two games and salvaged the weekend. I told the players, ‘Let’s start over.’”
It was as if Friday and Saturday never happened as a completely different team took the field.
“(The) games were good,” Mejia said. “We were just focused. Everybody stuck to the game plan. We just weren’t trying to get outplayed by Nikki (Nicosia). She was hitting bombs left and right. And our approach was different. The first one wasn’t working against Minnesota.”
The difference between playing the opposing teams this weekend was offense, Joseph added.
“I think the Minnesota (pitcher) did a better job of not making the number of mistake pitches, but I really felt like ultimately we were not aggressive enough at the plate,” Joseph said.
“We were very passive mentally … I think (hitting) is what we’re capable of doing — if we come to the plate with the right mindset.”
Two of Nicosia’s three home runs came in the second game during the somewhat rainy third and fourth innings.
“I’m not really sure what happened,” Nicosia said. “We needed to start fresh. I knew I had to really show up for the team and really get things started. I just feel as a team we came out stronger. (Saturday) we didn’t start to play until the seventh.
“Our team just kind of comes out when it wants to. When we set our minds to it, our team can achieve anything. We were just more determined than we were Friday and Saturday.”