Spartans split series with Nittany Lions
For the fourth consecutive season, the MSU softabll team split its series with Penn State at Secchia Stadium Wednesday, losing the first game, 8-6, but pulling out the second, 7-6.
Despite the infield defense struggling in the first game, senior shortstop Lindsey Hansen was the star on offense, hitting her 13th home run of the season and tying the Spartan record for home runs in a single season.
“We just knew that we had to be better, be better than how we were in the first game and that means in all categories,” Hansen said. “When we’re better in all categories, then the whole game just shifts, and I think that’s how we improved.”
After a quick break to regroup after the first game, the Spartans (20-15 overall, 2-4 Big Ten) came out with more intensity their second time around against the Nittany Lions (18-14, 4-2).
First at bat, senior outfielder Jessica Bracamonte knocked a homerun out of the stadium for her second homerun of the season. She sparked the MSU offense and helped them stay motivated throughout the game, Hansen said.
MSU jumped to a 5-0 lead in the third inning, starting with momentum built from sophomore outfielder Kyleme Hopkins’ triple deep into center field. Hansen hit a single to send Hopkins home before stealing second.
With Hansen and junior pitcher Lauren Kramer on base, junior catcher Brett Williams blasted a 220-foot home run almost to the Red Cedar River to give MSU a strong lead.
The teams moved onto the fifth inning, each scoring another run. After having four errors in the first game, the Spartans regrouped their defense down, recording two in the second game.
“I think our infield just calmed down,” Williams said. “I think they just went back to what they can do every single day — every single play — and did what they know how to do.”
Despite solid opening innings, the Spartan defense started to struggle in the infield again, similar to how it played in the first game. With the Nittany Lions’ third baseman Lauren Rossi on first and outfielder Cassidy Bell on second, first baseman Kailyn Johnson hit a home run into left field, bringing them within two of the Spartans.
“We are playing not even close to our ability,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “I don’t know what it’s about — if it’s pressure, if it’s whatever, but we’re not mentally in the right place, and we’re a good team … not playing well defensively.”
Keeping the game exciting, the Penn State’s second baseman Lauren Yao hit another home run for her team, tying the game at 6.
Going into the bottom of the fifth inning and racing against the approaching darkness, freshman third baseman Sarah Bowling stepped up to the plate hitting for sophomore utility Jenny Ramsaier.
Coming in for the winning play, Bowling knocked down her first career home run to give the Spartans the win.
“Being a freshman and just having the confidence to go up there and hit the crap out of the ball is just a good feeling for everybody else on the team, but has to be so great for her too,” Hansen said.