Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Spartans recover from early-inning blunders to top Central Michigan

Freshman pitcher Lauren Kramer pitches to a CMU player in the first inning of the MSU vs. Central Michigan softball game on Wednesday at Old College Field.

Photo by Gabrielle Moore | The State News

The MSU softball team snapped its seven-game slide with a late-inning flurry, beating Central Michigan 7-6 in extra innings.

Although the Spartans took six innings to score their first run, they only needed three batters to take the game in the bottom of the eighth. Weigle and Hansen singled and doubled in the first two at bats, putting two runners in scoring position for junior Kelly Confer.

Confer, who was robbed of a hit in her previous at bat with a highlight-reel, diving catch by Central Michigan’s center fielder, got solid bat on the ball this at bat, sending it into centerfield and winning the game for MSU, as the two Spartans on base trotted across home plate.

“The pitcher was throwing really good all game,” Confer said. “I just saw the pitch and swung at it.”

The Spartans started the game slow, allowing Central Michigan to get on the board in the top of the first. The Chippewas’ Jill Schulz hit a booming shot to the centerfield fence to score one.

Central Michigan scored two more in the second, as MSU gave up a double to the first batter at the plate and the Chippewas’ second batter hit a home run over dead center, putting Central Michigan in the lead 3-0.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Chippewas scored two more. Central Michigan’s Amanda Patrick scored a runner when MSU sophomore Jessica Bracamonte dropped a catch at the centerfield warning track, allowing Patrick to advance to second on the error. The next hitter drove in Patrick, putting Central Michigan in the lead, 5-0.

“I was really angry early,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “I just didn’t get why we were so flat.”

Joseph gathered the team together before the start of the fifth inning to light a fire underneath them and to get the team in the right frame of mind.

The Spartans responded, getting on the board in the bottom of the sixth when freshman Brett Williams ripped a line drive past the Central Michigan second baseman, scoring two and giving the MSU bench a boost.

The next two batters filled the bases and, after a pop fly to center, senior catcher Kara Weigle hit a single up the middle of the field to score two more Spartans and bring MSU to within one run, 5-4.

Sophomore shortstop Lindsey Hansen knocked that run in on the next at bat, tying the game with a hard single that bounced off the shortstop’s glove, scoring freshman Ali Grant and tying the game, 5-5.

Neither team could muster a run in the seventh inning, sending the game to extras.

The Chippewas put the pressure on MSU in the top of the eighth, as Patrick knocked in the go-ahead run with only one out. The Spartans bounced back, getting the next two batters out to get out of the inning and going on to win in the bottom of the frame.

“To come back from five runs down … that’s the biggest comeback all year,” Joseph said. “What does it mean for this weekend? I don’t know, I hope it bodes well for us. It can’t hurt.”

The Spartans head back on the road this weekend to play No. 23 Iowa on Saturday.

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