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Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | Last updated: 1:24pm


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Softball gears up for tournament




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Junior outfielder Kylene Hopkins heads for first base after batting March 29, 2012, when Michigan State faced Butler at Secchia Stadium. The Spartans lost to the Bulldogs 8-1. MSU travels to Tempe, Ariz., for the Littlewood Classic this weekend. State News File Photo



After a month of practice and four games behind it, the MSU softball team is ready to get the 2013 season into full swing.

Beginning the season with a 1-3 record after a four-game stint in Florida, the team looks to improve before heading back toward warm weather. The Spartans will head to Tempe, Ariz., this weekend for the Littlewood Classic to play the University of Illinois at Chicago, Arizona State, Illinois State and Northern Iowa.

This past weekend set the stage for what the team needs to work on, head coach Jacquie Joseph said.

“We achieved several of the goals in the sense that we needed to see the pitchers throw and see what we had,” Joseph said of last weekend’s trip. “We are still working out some positions and we do have a nice list of things to work on that we have to shore up, but all in all, I was pleased with a lot of the team concept stuff.”

MSU split games with Stetson and lost twice to South Carolina last weekend.

Joseph said she is considering making changes in her lineups moving forward.

“I was disappointed in that, I thought we kicked it a little bit on defense more than I would have liked to have seen,” Joseph said. “We have clearly not resolved left and right field. I thought our outfield played particularly poorly, except for (senior) Kylene (Hopkins), of course in center field, as an outstanding outfielder.

Hopkins, an All-Big Ten performer last season, has the best batting average for the Spartans so far at 0.571, followed by freshman pitcher Dani Goranson at 0.500.

Junior Sarah Bowling leads the team with five runs batted in off five hits.

“We definitely have two ready pitchers,” Joseph said. “(Junior) Kelly Smith clearly was just stellar, and I think that she is definitely someone we can build around. Dani Goranson also really shined after her first outing. Her first outing she was very nervous and it flattened her ball out, but her second outing she faced 16 South Carolina hitters and only gave up three hits.”

Smith has MSU’s lone win against Stetson, pitching 5.1 innings, racking up 10 strikeouts and giving up just four hits. Her second decision did not go as well, she gave up seven earned runs against South Carolina.

Overall, Joseph is confident in her team’s pitching staff this season.

“I feel good about the infield and who is going to play where, but I’m not happy with the fact that we gave up nine stolen bases and committed three errors in the outfield,” she said. “Those are things that we can fix and shore up. I definitely think that this will be better than last season.”


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