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Spartan softball team splits opener

March 29, 2001

It was a case of good news and bad news for the MSU softball team in its home opener Wednesday at Old College Field.

The good news was a 6-5 comeback win over the University of Detroit-Mercy in the first game of a doubleheader.

The bad news was a lethargic 5-0 loss in the second game, dropping MSU’s record to 10-22.

In the first game, MSU jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the early going, only to see the Titans tie it with three unearned runs in the fourth inning.

The Spartans had a golden opportunity to win it in the eighth inning after loading the bases with one out, but junior Keri DeJong and freshman Angel Merren both lined out to kill the rally.

In the 10th, both teams started with a runner on second base.

After seeing Detroit-Mercy score two runs in the top of the 10th to take a 5-3 lead, the Spartans rallied for three runs in the bottom of the 10th to win it.

Freshman Natalie Furrow was the hero, driving in the tying and winning runs with a single to left in the 10th.

Junior Andrea Goldsworthy and sophomore Lacy Hauxhurst started the inning with singles. After junior Amanda Melton reached base on an error after laying down a sacrifice bunt, Furrow came to the plate and sent everyone to the in-between games intermission.

DeJong allowed one earned run in five innings of relief to pick up the victory.

Furrow said her game-winning hit was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

“It was great because we got a lot of production out of the lineup early,” she said. “People were on base for me to hit them in and I just came up at the right time.”

There was no such production and not so many on base for the Spartans in the second game, as they could only muster three hits in six innings in their 5-0 loss.

The game was cut short one inning due to darkness.

Senior Shealee Dunavan, sophomore Tiffany Wallace and Hauxhurst accounted for the Spartans’ only hits.

Junior Niki Stemberger, who has been playing on a bum knee all season and will have season-ending knee surgery Friday, allowed four runs in five innings to pick up the loss.

Senior Demita Clark, who went 3-4 in the first game and is second on the team with a .308 batting average, said the team simply didn’t get the job done in the second game.

“We didn’t come out to play,” she said. “We need to come out every game - we’re not good enough to slack at any time and we weren’t ready to play.”

MSU head coach Jacquie Joseph said the team may have been fortunate to come away with a split on Wednesday.

“We really didn’t play well in either game,” she said. “We just were able to pull one out the first game - a game we certainly didn’t deserve to win - but good for us for pulling it out and winning.”

Joseph said her team has played well recently, but described their performance in the second game as “very lazy.”

“We really are not a real strong team anyway and when you know that about yourself, you really need to do something well,” she said. “We didn’t do any of the things that we needed to do to be successful today and that’s disappointing because we’ve played 30 games and I thought we had worked through some of those issues.”

After playing their first 32 games in warm environments such as California, Georgia and Florida, Joseph said the team showed a lot of inexperience in preparing for colder playing conditions.

“I think what makes the loss so disappointing is that we finally are at home and you’d think that you’d play with some enthusiasm and we didn’t.”

Furlow said the split against the Titans was something the Spartans can take many lessons from.

“It’s something to build on, I mean you really don’t want to peak at this time of the season,” she said. “As long as we learn from our mistakes we’ll be in pretty good shape the rest of the season.”

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