MSU heads to N.C. for Tar Heel Invitational
The MSU softball team was on a roll this weekend, having outscored its two opponents 23-8 in two games going into Sunday’s doubleheader.
Then the snow hit.
The team, which traveled to Birmingham, Ala., for four games to avoid winter weather, was disappointed to travel home without the chance to test its winning streak with games against Pittsburgh and the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
“Everything clicked this weekend,” said senior Gina Mondo, who plays second base. “We were just on a roll. We definitely wanted to play on Sunday. We would have played in the snow, but we didn’t have the option.”
Mondo was one of the many Spartans with a hot bat in the frigid weather, accounting for three runs and three hits in the two games. Sophomore Heidi Purtzer, who plays first base, had three RBIs in the Spartans’ 10-2 victory against Northern Illinois and sophomore shortstop Lindsey Hansen also tacked on three RBIs in the game.
With a 4-for-6 performance at the plate in the doubleheader, a team-high five RBIs and two home runs, Hansen was named the Big Ten Softball Player of the Week.
“It means a lot,” she said. “All my hard work that I’ve done in the past is finally paying off and I’m showing people I can do it. It was my best weekend performance even though it was only two games. I was anxious to see if we did play the other two games, to see what would have come out of it.”
The team will begin its spring break at the Tar Heel Invitational in North Carolina, with games against Princeton, North Carolina, Georgetown, Elon, North Carolina State and UNC-Wilmington. They will end their break the following weekend in South Carolina with four games against North Carolina, Coastal Carolina and Missouri.
MSU head coach Jacquie Joseph highlighted the games against Missouri, North Carolina and North Carolina State, saying they’re all teams who would finish in the middle to the top of the pack in the Big Ten and the Spartans can use the games as a measuring stick.
“There are three really good match-up games that I say to myself, ‘OK — If I want a barometer where we are on March 8 in comparison to who we have to play on April 8,’ I’m going to get that this week,” Joseph said. “That’s really what it’s designed to do. These are the teams that you might as well take North Carolina off the jersey and put Northwestern on or put Iowa on. They all pose a little something that I can say directly correlates to one of our Big Ten teams.”
The March 7 game against North Carolina will be a benefit game to raise awareness of ovarian cancer, deemed “Strike Out Cancer.” Former North Carolina player Jamie (Shaver) Mayberry, who has battled ovarian cancer, will throw out the first pitch in the game.
“When North Carolina first approached me, the first thing they said is, ‘It’s a former player,’ and that got me right away,” Joseph said. “In a lot of these sports that are not high-profile, we tend to be a very close community and a very tight-knit group of coaches. When it’s your own kid, it really hits closer to home. When they originally said, ‘Hey, we just want you to know this event’s going to go on and don’t want you to be bothered by it,’ I was like immediately, not only am I not bothered, but I want to be involved.”
Both teams will wear teal uniforms in the game, which will support the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“It provides one of those teaching moments that you can talk about but they’re going to see this girl,” Joseph said. “It’s going to hit home because it’s one of theirs and it could easily be one of mine.”