Spartans defeat Western Michigan 5-3
There’s nothing like kicking off a lengthy home stretch with a win.
After being on the road for its first 27 games, the MSU softball team returned to East Lansing on Wednesday afternoon and defeated Western Michigan, 5-3, in the team’s home opener at Old College Field.
MSU (13-15) is riding a three-game winning streak and will be home for its next five games.
Inside the game
MSU 5, Western Michigan 3
At the plate Junior shortstop Lindsey Hansen went 3-for-3 with two RBIs
In the circle Sophomore Lauren Kramer (9-6) allowed three runs on six hits, striking out seven and walking none
On deck The Spartans (13-15) host Iowa at 1 p.m. Saturday at Old College Field
Source: MSU Athletic Communications
“One, it’s great to win your home opener,” MSU head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “Two, it’s great to have great weather for your home opener. Three, it’s just great to just be off the road. Obviously, you want to win every game you play, and I thought we played pretty well.”
Junior shortstop Lindsey Hansen led the offensive charge for the Spartans, going 3-for-3 from the plate with two RBIs and a double. Hansen leads MSU in batting average at .373 and leads the Big Ten with 11 doubles.
Sophomore Lauren Kramer pitched a complete game for MSU, allowing six hits and striking out seven.
“We are pretty happy with the win,” said freshman catcher Mary Kate DiVirgilio, who hit her first career home run in the victory. “We’ve been working really hard all season and had a good first half. We are all starting to come together and play together as a team. It was a very beneficial game for our home opener.”
The Spartans jumped on the board first with a two-run third inning.
But the Broncos responded with two runs in the top of the fourth inning to tie the game when Western Michigan pitcher Kayla Houston brought in two runs with a deep hit to center field.
A two-out rally helped MSU regain the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. With no one on base and two outs, sophomore left fielder Karen Fox and freshman right fielder Kylene Hopkins both walked.
Then, Hansen drilled a ball to the shortstop that was too hot to cleanly handle. Western Michigan shortstop Michelle Bendewald fumbled the ball, yet tried to make the throw to first base. The ball was overthrown and the two runners scored, giving MSU a 4-2 lead.
“It’s huge to come right back because you don’t want to give the other team momentum,” Joseph said. “At that point, I think they felt like they had a little momentum. But for us to come right back, get some people on, create some pressure and actually score some runs was really good.”
DiVirgilio added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning on a homer to deep center field to give the Spartans a 5-2 lead.
“Whenever you score going into the seventh (inning), you put in a dagger,” Joseph said. “(DiVirgilio’s) home run was really important. It kind of puts the game out of reach for your opponent.”
With two outs, Western Michigan center fielder Lexi Jager drilled a triple to right field that brought the score to 5-3.
But Hansen struck out the final batter to earn the win for the Spartans.
“It wasn’t one of my better games,” Kramer said. “But I got the job done. I had a lot of misses, but I got away with them. I just need to clean it up and hit my spots better.”
MSU will open Big Ten play this weekend with a two-game series against Iowa (14-12). Both Saturday and Sunday’s games will start at 1 p.m. at Old College Field.
“Iowa is just a great team,” Joseph said of the Spartans’ next opponent. “We will have to play well to beat them. It’s just that simple. Do I think we are better than them on paper? Yeah, I do. Is it going to mean anything on game day? No, it won’t.”