MSU, Purdue softball teams 'mirror' images of each other
After a week where her team was outscored 36-4 and couldn’t seem to get back up after being constantly knocked down, softball head coach Jacquie Joseph decided to do something most coaches might never think of doing.
She let her players take this past weekend off and get away from softball.
No practice, no working out, nothing.
In the game
MSU softball team vs. Purdue
Time 3 p.m./5 p.m.
Place Varsity Softball Complex, West Lafayette, Ind.
Outlook The Spartans (18-24 overall, 4-8 Big Ten) enter Wednesday’s doubleheader vs. Purdue (22-24, 3-7) on a six-game losing streak.
Source: MSU Athletic Communications
“I asked them to get away — don’t think about softball, just be a normal person, and we’ll come back Monday and regroup,” Joseph said. “So, I’m hoping that, that’s what they did.”
The Spartans (18-24 overall, 4-8 Big Ten) are looking to break their six-game losing streak as they head to West Lafayette, Ind., on Wednesday to play a doubleheader at Purdue (22-24, 3-7.)
Tuesday, players said they felt recharged after having the weekend off and are mentally focused to get back on the winning track.
“I feel awesome,” senior pitcher Kelly Confer said. “I think we all feel a little recharged and just mentally ready again.”
The Spartans and Boilermakers have had similar paths to this point. Both were looking at improving on their 2009 campaigns but have underachieved thus far.
Last season, Purdue went 31-20, while the Spartans won seven of their final 11 games and finished the season upsetting No. 8-ranked Michigan.
“I think they’re maybe a mirror of us,” Joseph said of the Boilermakers. “They feel like they’re underachieving a bit, and they feel like they’re struggling a little bit. They came off a huge year last year. … I’m sure they’re feeling as frustrated as we are right about now, and we’re trying to separate ourselves at this point in the year because it’s such a bunch up in terms of the middle.”
The Spartans, who sit in seventh place in the Big Ten, only are three games in the win column out of fifth place but also are just a half-game up on ninth place Indiana, so Wednesday’s double-header is key for standing as the season winds down.
With the recent struggles, Joseph said she’s hoping the trip to West Lafayette will be a team-building experience. Without the distractions and lack of a home following, road trips can force a team to get closer.
The fact that the Spartans have recently lost four consecutive home games could be another reason Joseph is glad to be going on the road.
“I personally like team travel so far because we have not established a big home following yet,” Joseph said. “I’m really hoping that, that changes in the future where we can really establish a home-field advantage. We don’t have that yet. It’s definitely the goal after we get the (new) stadium to really began to cultivate a home-field advantage.
“(I hope that) teams feel that when they come out (to Old College Field;) it’s loud. I like team travel now for that reason because we can always just be sequestered, and there aren’t as many distractions.”
After this trip, the Spartans will play four consecutive home games, so playing well on the road could get the ball rolling before another home stretch.
“I feel like we definitely needed a break, and now we’re mentally and physically ready to play,” freshman outfielder Kylene Hopkins said.