The MSU softball team followed up Tuesday’s loss against Central Michigan with better offensive production Wednesday, but settled for a split with Oakland in a double-header.
The Spartans (22-22) showed discipline and execution at the plate and pelted 16 hits and two home runs between the two games of Wednesday’s doubleheader. However, MSU watched Oakland’s two-run seventh lift the Golden Grizzlies (21-26) to a 5-3 win in the finale after the Spartans cruised, 8-0, in the opener.
The Spartans appeared to be in grand shape to sweep the series before the Oakland rallied from an early deficit in game two and slowed the Spartans’ threats. Regardless, the Spartans will try to use their hitting performance as a momentum builder.
“Coming out and beating them the first game, that felt good,” senior shortstop Lindsey Hansen said. “And we wanted to bring the momentum to the second game, but they just got us. We hit really well, but they just hit better at better timing than us.”
The Spartans’ offensive production began early.
Junior Melanie Bensema smashed the Spartans’ first ever grand slam at Secchia Stadium to center field in the first inning of game one to put the Spartans ahead 5-0.
Junior Lauren Kramer ripped an RBI single to center field to drive in the Spartans’ first run after two players reached base earlier.
Hansen kept it going by hitting a two-run shot past the left field pole in the fifth inning to put the Spartans ahead 7-0. Junior second baseman Ali Grant ended the game with a single in the sixth inning that gave the Spartans their eighth run and allowed them to win because of an eight-run rule.
“That was really important for us to come back and show what we’re made of,” Hansen said. “(Tuesday) was a very tough loss.”
Freshman pitcher Cassee Layne kept Oakland hitters at bay all throughout the opener, allowing three hits in six shutout innings and avoiding any major jams to earn the win.
The Spartans once again got off to a great start as Kramer hit an RBI single in the first inning of game two, but the Golden Grizzlies answered with a much stronger offensive performance.
Oakland got to MSU starter Kramer for three hits and two runs in the third inning and added two more off of sophomore pitcher Shelby Wise in the seventh inning for the go-ahead runs.
After an infield single and a hit-batsman, Oakland’s Erika Polidori cranked an RBI double to right-center field that brought in the two runs and pushed the Spartans to the brink.
Grant singled with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but the Spartans registered back-to-back groundouts and came up on the short end of a 5-3 performance.
Hansen and Kramer drove in the other runs in the second game, but MSU failed to produce any more runs despite having nine hits and several threats throughout the game.
“The first game we had timely hitting and strung together our hits, while the second game, our hits were not bunched up together to score as many runs,” Bensema said. “I know we’re capable, but sometimes it just doesn’t come together at once.”
Kramer had two hits in both games for the MSU, while Grant tallied three hits and Hansen had two in the second game to lead the Spartans’ hitters.
MSU will continue play at Minnesota on Saturday and try to have more timely hitting.
“In Game two we just ran out of pitching,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “When you’re going to give up five, you’ve got to score six.”
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