Softball falls to Indiana, still winless in Big Ten play
For much of the game Friday evening, it appeared that the MSU softball team was on its way to earning its first victory in Big Ten competition. The Spartans (11-40 overall, 0-21 Big Ten) dropped game one of their final series of the season against Indiana in a close 4-2 decision at Secchia Stadium at Old College Field.
Despite out-hitting the Hoosiers (28-25, 12-10) nine to four, MSU once again found itself on the losing end and was not able to drive home clutch hits as the Spartans left nine runners stranded in the game.
“I thought we played great — we played well enough to win,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “We could not get a break. We couldn’t get break with calls, we couldn’t get a break with runners in scoring position.”
Senior left fielder Lori Padilla singled to left field in the bottom of the fourth inning scoring junior second baseman Jenny Ramsaier to narrow the Hoosiers’ lead to 3-2 and it appeared the Spartans could be in line for a comeback.
Any momentum MSU had quickly vanished with two outs in the top of the seventh as Indiana right fielder Lindsay Callanan hit a RBI-triple to put the Hoosiers up 4-2.
Following that decisive hit, three of the next four Spartan batters grounded out to end the game.
The Spartans paid for critical mistakes in game one as the four Indiana batters that were walked or hit by sophomore pitcher Cassee Layne scored. Layne recorded five strikeouts in her complete game performance.
“I’d say we were in the ball game the whole time, so I feel like everyone at least thought we had a chance to win,” Layne said. “I feel like … that shows us that tomorrow we can come out and beat them.”
Senior right fielder Ali Grant, who went three-for-three with two doubles, said playing such a close game gives the team confidence heading into the final day of the season. Earning the first Big Ten win of the season is still an important goal for the Spartans in their final opportunities Saturday, Grant said.
“It would mean a lot,” she said. “Especially as seniors, we want to go out on a positive note being that this season has been a little bit of a struggle it would be nice to get a win on Senior Day.”
Joseph said she remains optimistic now that the Spartans have seen both of Indiana’s pitchers, and that her team has not hung their heads despite its record in conference play.
MSU returns to action at 3 p.m. Saturday for the first game of a doubleheader.
“I think the kids are great, I can’t explain it,” Joseph said. “They’re great. They’ve never quit, They’ve never given up,(and) they’re not about to now. We’re gonna get it done.”