Late scores push Iowa past MSU softball
After overcoming rain and a three-run first inning deficit, the MSU softball team couldn’t overcome a late Iowa rally, falling 7-6 to the Hawkeyes on Sunday.
Two sixth-inning tallies completed Iowa’s comeback from down 6-5 and lifted the Hawkeyes to a one-run win on a wild afternoon that featured several lead changes.
After struggling to score runs in the early season, the Spartans’ bats came alive Sunday as they piled on six runs through five innings to gain the early lead, but they couldn’t add any more to keep the advantage.
“I thought we did a good job of battling after they scored first,” MSU head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “I felt good about a lot, but what we did this weekend is what we’ve been doing the entire season. … It’s an inability to finish. It’s what separates great teams from good teams.”
MSU fell behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning and looked to be in trouble before an RBI double by sophomore catcher Brett Williams scored junior outfielder Jessica Bracamonte to make it 3-1 in the bottom half of the inning.
After Iowa increased its lead to 4-1, the Spartans responded with one of their biggest innings of the season, pounding the Hawkeyes for five runs off several hits. Sophomore second baseman Ali Grant and senior pitcher Kelly Confer began the inning with singles, and after an out, sophomore pitcher Lauren Kramer nailed a two-run single to bring the Spartans within one run.
Freshman outfielder Kylene Hopkins kept it going with a bunt single, and after a groundout, Bracamonte blasted a three-run home run to put the Spartans on top, 6-4.
Bracamonte went 1-for-3 on the afternoon and is hitting .363 this season.
With the lead, the Spartans’ bats cooled off a bit, but their six runs off seven hits marks the Spartans’ best hitting performance in two weeks.
“I think we responded well to them getting an early 3-1 lead,” Williams said.
“In any game that can really get you out of the entire situation, but we got a run in the bottom of the first inning and from then kept scoring and battling it out.”
Confer got the start on the mound for the Spartans but was replaced by freshman pitcher Shelby Wise in the third inning.
Iowa battled back with one run in the third to make it 6-5, but a smart decision by MSU freshman second baseman Jenny Ramsaier to throw home allowed the Spartans to get a force out in the fifth inning and prevent the tying run from reaching the plate.
After getting blanked by sophomore pitcher Kramer in the fifth inning, Iowa added two runs off two singles and a double in the sixth inning to retake the lead.
Junior shortstop Lindsey Hansen reached second base to begin the Spartans’ seventh inning, but the next two Spartans grounded into fielders choices, and Iowa hung on for victory.
The Spartans (13-17 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) fell Saturday to the Hawkeyes 3-1, and still are looking for their first conference win.
MSU will look to work on its execution down the stretch as it prepares for a quick turnaround for a Tuesday matchup against Eastern Michigan.
“I definitely felt like we put up a good fight, but obviously we didn’t finish strong enough to get the win,” Bracamonte said. “We’re better than that and we can win these games.”