MSU softball earns needed series win over Ohio State
The MSU softball team took on Big Ten rival Ohio State University during the weekend. The Spartans came out on top, taking the series 2-1 and improving their record to 24-18 (7-10 Big Ten).
On Friday, the Spartans got an impactful performance at the mound from starter Kristina Zalewski, who finished the day with seven strikeouts to improve her record to 3-6 overall and moved into a tie for second place on MSU’s career strikeout list with 408.
MSU got on the board first after a sacrifice fly from Lindsey Besson allowed Sarah Gutknecht to score in the bottom of the fourth.
The Spartans added onto their lead with a pair of runs in the fifth by McKenzie Long and Kaitlyn Eveland. Those were all the runs the Spartans needed as they won, 3-2.
On Saturday, the Spartans won their second-straight game against the Buckeyes and improved their winning streak to six games and remained undefeated at Secchia Stadium this season with a record of 7-0.
Eveland hit a pair of doubles and recorded three RBIs in the win, while Kelly Zackrison delivered a two-out RBI single in the fifth and another in the seventh.
After an infield popup was caught by Ohio State, sophomore Ebonee Echols hammered a two-out bases-loaded walkoff single to give MSU a 7-6 victory over the Buckeyes.
Echols ended the day with three hits and logged the walkoff RBI.
“It's exciting to watch the evolution and growth of our team,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said after the win to MSU Athletic Communications. “We're discovering that we are truly multi-faceted and can win in different ways. There's an excitement to take the field, to come to practice, to improve every day, and it's a feeling that just cannot be replicated.”
After winning two straight, the Buckeyes finally got revenge Sunday. Ohio State shortstop Lilli Piper hit two home runs as the Buckeyes won 6-2 in the series finale.
The Spartans received singles from Kelsey Carrasco in the first and fourth innings as MSU took an early lead in the game.
Zalewski struck out five over the first three innings and surrendered just one hit, while Bridgette Rainey struck out two in two innings and also surrendered just one hit.
Freshman Jordan Watson took the loss after a save in Friday’s game and a win in relief on Saturday. She dropped her record to 7-4 on the season.
Piper's first homer of the day and a two-run double by Ohio State's Becca Gavin in the sixth made it a 4-2 lead for the Buckeyes. In the seventh, Piper followed a two-out triple by Ohio State's Alex Bayne with a ball to left center to give Ohio State a 6-2 advantage.
"I did not think we did a good job at the plate in the early stages of the game, and we let Ohio State stay close — and that's a very good hitting team that finally broke through in the late innings,” Joseph said in a press release from MSU Athletic Communications. “We only had three hits in the game, but made some pretty good contact, but hit it right to people for easy outs."
The Spartans have another busy week ahead of them as they play Eastern Michigan University on Tuesday at home. They will then go on the road to face Central Michigan University before taking on Rutgers in a three-game series beginning Friday.