MSU softball team reflects on season, looks forward
After a season filled with a multitude of extreme highs and lows, MSU head coach Jacquie Joseph used one word more than any other to describe the 2010 campaign: Inconsistent.
“We’ve been really inconsistent and up and down all season,” Joseph said. “The inconsistency is something that really killed us all year long, and that’s been really unfortunate.”
The Spartans, who finished the season with a 21-31 overall record and 5-15 in the Big Ten, played their final game of the season in Madison, Wis. on Saturday against Wisconsin. MSU lost the first game of the series, 6-1, only to rout the Badgers, 11-3 the next day.
The series was the perfect way to end a season in which the Spartans seemed to experience at least one negative for every positive.
“At times, there were areas that were good and then areas that were bad,” Joseph said. “Sometimes pitching was good, and then we couldn’t hit at all. Other times we could hit, but we couldn’t pitch. I’m just disappointed we were as inconsistent as we were.”
In the Spartans’ third game of the season, sophomore pitcher Lauren Kramer threw the first MSU no-hitter since 2007, as the team split its first four games of the season.
However, after the Spartans won the first game of the next weekend, they proceeded to go on their first of two eight-game losing streaks, setting the tone for the rest of the season.
MSU struggled through the Big Ten season, winning only one series and never recording a winning streak of more than two games against conference opponents.
Although Joseph had hoped the season would turnout differently, she said there were some positives to take from 2010, including the play of the defense. MSU cut its errors down from 77 in 2009 to 56 this season and also increased its fielding percentage from .948 to .962.
Joseph said the biggest plus to come out of this season was giving all of the young players on her team a chance to play. With only one player graduating — senior pitcher Kelly Confer — the Spartans return a large portion of the team for next season.
“It was really unprecedented for me to only have one senior,” Joseph said. “I can only think that’s going to help us because all these kids played a lot.”
Five freshmen and seven sophomores saw action this season for the Green and White. Freshman outfielder Kylene Hopkins had the third-highest batting average on the team (.247) and had an impressive .960 fielding percentage, while fellow freshman utility Jayme O’Bryant had the fourth most RBIs (16).
Kramer had a team-low 3.01 ERA and hit five home runs in her sophomore season, good for second on the team.
O’Bryant said that while other young players throughout the country might have played limitedly or not at all, being able to play so much as an underclassman will be valuable down the road.
“It was very rewarding to come in as a freshman and play as a freshman,” O’Bryant said. “I have that experience now going into next year, so I think it will really help.”
As MSU now prepares for next season with more returning players than any other team in the Big Ten, Kramer said the future looks bright for the Spartans.
“We’re very optimistic for next year,” Kramer said. “We have a lot of girls returning with a lot of experience and we’re just going to keep rolling with it.”