The MSU softball team hopes Saturday’s game at the new Secchia Stadium is a beginning of things to come.
The MSU softball team opened the new stadium with an 8-0 win in five innings Saturday against Wisconsin, putting on an impressive display of relentlessness and pitching in the 1,200 seat stadium, and fought off light rain, cold temperatures and a Wisconsin opponent that entered with a 16-12 record to earn the victory.
The Spartans scored two runs in the third inning and added six with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning to seal a win that will go down in the record books.
“It was pretty critical for us to win, and I was really proud of the way our kids played,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “We had some real quality at-bats, which is what I really look at – the quality of the at-bat.”
Joseph said because the stadium’s first result likely will be remembered in the future, it was important to get the first win. The new stadium has a new press box and backstops among other features.
Freshman pitcher Cassee Layne was the top performer Saturday, pitching five shutout innings and allowing one hit and four walks.
After allowing just one walk through the first two innings, Layne finally gave up a hit to Wisconsin’s Whitney Massey in the third inning for a single to right field, but she got a groundout to end the inning and prevent any damage.
The Spartans jumped on the Badgers for two runs in the bottom of the third, when junior catcher Brett Williams bounced a singled into right field that scored senior outfielder Jessica Bracamonte and senior shortstop Lindsey Hansen.
Bracamonte drew a one-out walk before Hansen singled and junior Lauren Kramer walked to load the bases.
At the plate, the Spartans were a story of timely hitting. With two out in the fifth inning, the Spartans scored six runs that allowed them to go up by eight runs and end the game on an eight-run runs rule.
Junior second baseman Ali Grant stepped to the plate with two runners on and two out and smacked a single to left field that brought in Hansen and Williams.
After senior first baseman Heidi Purtzer was hit by a pitch, sophomore outfielder Kylene Hopkins and sophomore catcher Mary Kate DiVirgilio both drew walks to bring Grant home and make it 5-0, then Bracamonte hit a two-run single and Hansen ripped a single to left field to finish off the Badgers.
The Spartans showed patience at the plate and came through with big hits when they needed them.
“Being our first game at the new Secchia Stadium, it’s always important to get the win because in all the record books and everything this game is always going to be remembered,” Williams said.
“We really worked on capitalizing this week, and I think we did that when we got people on the basepath. We got them in.”
MSU improved to 19-13 and 1-2 in the Big Ten, while Wisconsin fell to 16-13 and 0-3, with the two teams finishing a two-game series Sunday at 1 p.m. at Secchia Stadium.
With two more home games against Penn State on Wednesday, the Spartans only can hope Saturday’s game was a precursor of things to come at Secchia Stadium.
“I feel like overall we did really well,” Layne said. “It definitely builds morale because we can come out here tomorrow and hopefully do the same thing.”
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