Softball drops doubleheader to Iowa; 6-0, 7-1
The offensive woes for the MSU softball team continued as the Spartans mustered just a single run between both games of a doubleheader against Iowa Saturday at Secchia Stadium at Old College Field.
After being shutout 6-0 in game one thanks to a seven strikeout performance by Hawkeye pitcher Kayla Massey, the hitting slump continued into game two where, MSU (11-32 overall, 0-14 Big Ten) fell 7-1. MSU registered four and five hits in each game, respectively.
“Hitting is such a mental thing, and right now, they just don’t feel good about themselves at the plate,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “It takes them out of their game, and when you’re out of your game you try to do too much. When you try to do too much you just fail.”
The Spartans traded blows with Iowa (19-22, 9-5) in the first inning of game two, notching their only run of the day and knotting the score at 1-1.
A disastrous third inning was the turning point as the Hawkeyes’ designated hitter Michelle Zoeller — who went 2-4 in the game — reached first base on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second after an error by MSU junior third baseman Jayme O’Bryant, which brought in two Iowa runs. Pinch runner Nikki Gentile scored one more run in the inning to increase the Iowa lead to 4-1.
Iowa continued to cruise through three scoreless innings before adding two more runs in the final frame. MSU sophomore pitcher Cassee Layne gave up eight hits and walked five as the Spartans lost their ninth consecutive contest.
Junior center fielder Kylene Hopkins and freshman first baseman McKinzie Freimuth paced the Spartans, each going 2-3 at the plate.
“I think the problem is that it’s a visible slump,” said senior left fielder Lori Padilla, who went 0-4 in game two.
“We’re all feeling it, and we’re trying to get ourselves out of it instead of just sticking together and sticking to what we know.”
Joseph — who cited poor pitching performances for Saturday’s losses — said lack of motivation is not an issue as the Spartans remain the only winless team in Big Ten play.
Sunday’s final game of the series is there for the taking, Joseph said, if MSU can manage solid fundamentals and find a way to score.
“We think about it every day the minute that we step on the field for practice,” Padilla said. “We’re so hungry for that first (Big Ten) win, and we need that confidence booster. … We’re working for it.”
MSU closes its series with Iowa at 1 p.m. Sunday at Secchia Stadium before returning to action Tuesday on the road at Notre Dame.