Northwestern outscores MSU 24-0 in doubleheader sweep
There is no better way to describe the MSU softball team’s doubleheader sweep at the hands of Northwestern than by looking at the stat line.
In two games, MSU was outscored 24-0 and out-hit 22-4.
The two teams might have been next to each other in the Big Ten standings, but Wednesday the Spartans and Wildcats couldn’t have been further apart.
“You have to give Northwestern credit in that every single mistake we made, they hit it,” MSU softball head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “I thought that was true with both games against Northwestern, if we missed a pitch, they hit it 300 feet, and we cannot continue to make those kinds of mistakes. Offensively, we’re just not hitting the ball like we need to hit to win.
“It’s a great conference, everybody comes to play and if you don’t bring your ‘A’ game, you’re going to get it handed to you and, boy, we got it handed to us today.”
After an embarrassing 15-0 five-inning loss in the opener, the Spartans (18-23 overall, 4-8 Big Ten) were hoping to quickly move past it in the second game.
But the Wildcats (20-18, 6-5) jumped on top in the top of the first off a two-run home run from second baseman Nicole Pauly and it was déjà vu.
“Pitching just totally let us down and it took us out of the game because we weren’t mentally ready to score nine runs,” sophomore pitcher Lauren Kramer said.
In the bottom of the second, MSU was able to get runners on second and third with two outs but sophomore catcher Brett Williams was robbed on a diving catch by Northwestern centerfielder Kelly Dyer.
Pauly hurt the Spartans again in the top of the third inning with another two-run homer and catcher Emily Haug also hit a two-run shot as Northwestern opened up a 6-0 lead.
The story of the game was hitting with two outs. In the bottom of the fourth, sophomore third baseman Ali Grant struck out with a runner on third base and two outs. In the very next half inning, Northwestern drove in three runs with two outs to extend their lead to 9-0.
The game ended 9-0 after five innings because of the run rule.
For the game, Northwestern scored eight of their nine runs with two outs.
“It’s more a lack of toughness than it is focus,” Joseph said of her team’s struggles with two outs. “You just have to figure out a way to turn that spicket off and we’re young and we just don’t know how to do it.”
Almost nothing went right for the Spartans in the first game. After quickly falling behind 1-0 after one inning, Northwestern exploded for eight runs in the top of the second on only three hits.
Senior pitcher Kelly Confer got herself into an early hole in the inning. With the bases loaded and the score 2-0, Confer walked, hit and walked three consecutive batters before being pulled.
Along with the three hits in the inning, five Wildcats walked and one was hit by a pitch.
With the wind ripped out of their sails, the Spartans didn’t put up any sort of fight for the rest of the game.
MSU finished with just two hits.
The Wildcats added four runs in the top of the fourth and two in the top of the fifth as the run rule ended the game after five innings, giving the Wildcats a 15-0 victory.
The Spartans immediately return to action at 4 p.m. Thursday when they travel to Mt. Pleasant, Mich. to take on Central Michigan (21-13, 8-4 Mid-American Conference).