Taking notes from two road losses to Iowa last weekend, the MSU softball team will remain on the road — playing a doubleheader against Northwestern on Today — setting out to accomplish the same goals it had before the weekend: play tough infield defense.
“We’re more solidified in what has to happen,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “We set out to do certain things at Iowa, and we didn’t do them, so we’re still trying to do them.
“We went there to play good defense, and we didn’t, and we lost.”
The Spartans (20-17 overall, 2-6 Big Ten) are setting their opponents aside, keeping in mind that if they perform well and execute every play, they’ll be able to respond successfully to any situation thrown at them.
Having trouble with errors in recent games, MSU has strived to reduce its errors while Joseph emphasizes the impact one less error could have on the outcome of a game.
“One pitch, one catch, one throw — (we’re) just narrowing it down to the smallest detail, (and) making sure we have the ball in our glove before we go to throw it,” junior outfielder Lori Padilla said.
With only one series this week, the Spartans are at an advantage with one opponent to focus on and have extra time to fine-tune the details of their playing. The Spartans are off this weekend, before hosting Purdue on April 20.
Their goal is to improve in every game, and with extra practice time this week, they’ll be able to get more comfortable fielding.
Adding another challenge to the mix, MSU is forced to change its infield lineup with recent injuries to senior first baseman Heidi Purtzer and sophomore third baseman Jayme O’Bryant. Filling in, Joseph said she most likely will move junior pitcher Lauren Kramer to first and junior second baseman Ali Grant to third.
Although she knows both substitutes are capable of being successful fill-ins, Joseph said she’s not sure how the rest of the infield will respond to the change.
Regardless of the lineup, the Spartans know they have the fundamentals to pull out two wins against the Wildcats (19-10, 1-3), but they have to bring all their skills to the table, junior catcher Brett Williams said.
“We’re really narrowing down the details,” Padilla said.
“We always talk about staying in the process and the details, and we really need to commit to that and focus on that because we have all the tools and assets that we need. We just need to bring it all together.”
Despite struggling in the infield, Joseph said MSU is hitting well, especially with Williams and senior shortstop Lindsey Hansen in the lineup.
The pair combine to make the top home run tandem in the conference.
Combined they total 24 home runs in the 37 games played this season.
“It just shows that her and I are both putting the ball in play,” Williams said. “And I think that’s what our roles are in order for our teams to be successful.”
The Spartans will continue relying on Williams and Hansen in their doubleheader, anticipating Northwestern being better than the conference teams they already have played.
MSU has lost 12 game in a row to the Wildcats, but must pull out at least one win against the Wildcats to avoid being stuck in the bottom half of the conference standings.
“We’re desperate,” Joseph said.
“You hate to say that, but it is what it is. We’ve got to win a game.”
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