Over an hour before practice began, members of the MSU softball team were on the field joking, practicing, but mainly preparing.
Coming off a loss to Purdue last weekend, the Spartans (10-19 overall, 0-3 Big Ten) have been preparing for a busy weekend home. Their home opener will take place Thursday when MSU goes up against Butler at 4 p.m. at Secchia Stadium. Continuing into the weekend, MSU will host Ohio State in a three-game series, starting Saturday at 1 p.m.
Assistant coach Chelsea Spencer said although the players have been fighting exhaustion due to travel in recent games, she is confident going into this weekend.
“If we work on the right things, it will be a successful weekend,” Spencer said.
Spencer said the team is full of hard workers and heart, but they struggle in execution.
“We had a good day on Sunday — much better than Saturday,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “We’re hoping to start from where we left off on Sunday.”
Several days of rest and a home opener might be just what the Spartans need to step up this weekend.
“I’m just really excited to play at home,” said freshman pitcher Carly Nielson.
The home-opener should see a fair turnout at the second year of Secchia Stadium. Joseph said she knows many fans already have bought tickets.
“We’re super excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans … (And) hear the fight song,” Joseph said.
Going up against OSU
Ohio State is 16-11 overall and 2-1 in the conference, but according to Joseph those numbers may be deceiving.
“We’ve played a tougher schedule than Ohio State has,” Joseph said. “I don’t think they’re going to show us anything we haven’t seen.”
The team plans to take the upcoming games one at a time.
“Coach J always tells us to play the game, not the jersey,” senior third baseman Ali Grant said. “We’re going into this weekend with that mindset.”
Pitchers gear up for home mound
Sophomore pitcher Cassee Layne said after a few days of rest she, and the remainder of the team, is ready.
Layne was replaced by Nielson in Sunday’s game after allowing two runs and four hits.
Joesph said only allowing two runs is a fairly good game, and all four pitchers should see plenty of playing time this weekend.
“If I’m struggling, I’m glad there’s someone else to come in to help me out,” Layne said.
Layne holds a 7.51 ERA and a 4-7 record this season. Nielson holds a 5.43 ERA and a 3-8 record.
Despite the competition between pitchers, Layne says their differences make for an advantage against Butler and Ohio State.
“We have different strengths and different weaknesses, and I think we feed off that,” Layne said.
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