MSU softball splits final series with Badgers
Heading into the final series of the season for the MSU softball team, head coach Jacquie Joseph hoped her team could end its up and down season on a positive note.
After the Spartans dropped the first game to Wisconsin, 6-1, on Friday in Madison, Wisc., Joseph got her wish as her team won its last game handily Saturday, 11-3, in six innings.
“It was critical to win,” Joseph said of Saturday’s game. “I just felt like we played so bad (Friday), and it was real, real important for us to win and end the season the right way.”
On Friday, MSU (21-31 overall, 5-15 Big Ten) was unable to do virtually anything at the plate. It took until the seventh inning for the Spartans to get their first and only hit of the game off of Badgers’ pitcher Letty Olivarez, when sophomore pitcher Lauren Kramer hit a solo home run, her fifth of the season.
Wisconsin (20-31, 5-13) started its scoring early, however, with one run in the first inning and two in the second. The Badgers had another two-run inning in the fifth after adding one run in the fourth.
The loss was MSU’s fifth in a row and its 13th in the last 15 games.
For as much as the Spartans struggled at the dish Friday, their bats were explosive in Saturday’s game, scoring 11 runs on 10 hits.
“We came out and really hit the ball well,” Joseph said. “We made a lot of nice adjustments against the same pitcher and that was good.”
MSU scored two runs in each of the first two innings, while Kramer held Wisconsin scoreless through the first three innings.
In the top of the sixth, freshman third baseman Jayme O’Bryant hit a grand slam as part of a six-run inning that put the game out of reach.
Although O’Bryant led the way offensively for the Spartans, going three-for-three with four RBIs, she said everyone was a crucial part of the win.
“It was a whole team effort,” O’Bryant said. “We were up in the dugout just ready to play and get out there. It was a new day.”
Kramer recorded her 16th win of the season for MSU.
In addition to being the last game of the 2010 season, Saturday’s game was senior pitcher Kelly Confer’s final time playing for the Green and White — another reason why Joseph wanted a victory so badly.
“The last thing you want to do is send a senior out a loser,” Joseph said. “To send her out with a win was something that we wanted to do. She’s been a great, loyal Spartan so we were happy for her to do that.”
Confer was the lone senior for the Spartans this season and her teammates said it was just as important to them as it was to their head coach to give Confer a win in her last game.
“It feels really great to end with a win just so that we can give Kelly her final goodbye on a good note,” O’Bryant said. “We really wanted to do this for her.”
Although her senior season didn’t go quite as planned as far as wins and losses, Confer said Saturday’s game was the perfect ending to her four-year career at MSU.
“It was awesome to end on a win, and I couldn’t have asked for better teammates,” Confer said. “Being the only senior, I got to guide them around and really watch everyone grow. It was a great experience.”