Wolverines keep MSU scoreless in series win
Three up, three down.
The MSU softball team remains the lone Big Ten team without a conference win as it was swept by No. 20 Michigan in a three-game weekend series in which the Spartans (11-30 overall, 0-12 Big Ten) were unable to score a single run.
In the first game of the series — played on Saturday at Secchia Stadium at Old College Field — the Spartans held the Wolverines scoreless through four innings before letting up eight runs in the fifth inning. The Spartans fell 8-0 in a game ended in the fifth inning by the NCAA’s mercy rule — an eight-run difference by the end of the fifth.
“All season we’ve definitely been needing offense,” sophomore utility player Sarah Bowling said after the first loss. “We came through in the first couple innings, but the right-handed hitters, unfortunately, didn’t make the adjustments to score the runners from third.”
MSU then traveled to Ann Arbor for a doubleheader on Sunday, in which MSU dropped both games by scores of 2-0 and 5-0. Over the course of the weekend, the Spartans mustered 10 hits off Michigan’s pitching staff, but once again they failed to take advantage with the runners on base.
Of those 10 hits, two came from freshman McKinzie Freimuth, who went two-for-three in the first game of the doubleheader.
“We just need to start getting more two-out hits,” Freimuth said. “We need to stay more focused at the plate, don’t worry about how many outs — just stay focused on the moment.”
Problems at the plate aside, head coach Jacquie Joseph said she was impressed with the way her players performed on defense. The Spartans saw some quality performances from their fielders, and Joseph was pleased with the way her pitching staff stepped up during the series.
“Clearly, I felt that our pitching is improving,” she said. “We’re walking fewer people, hitting fewer people, giving up fewer home runs — just improving. (But) now we just need to put it together.”
Above all, Joseph felt her team showed a lot of growth over the weekend and though that growth did not translate to any wins, it is something the Spartans can continue to build on for the rest of the season.
Although the Spartans have yet to record a Big Ten victory, Joseph said the team can’t dwell on their conference record. Instead, she said the team needs to look ahead at what it still can accomplish in the remaining 15 games.
“It’s not an easy place to be, no question,” she said. “We talked about what we have left, and we’ve got an opportunity for (15) more games. We’ve shown that we’re not a bad team, we just need to put all three phases of the game together at the same time.”