Sunday’s victory over Penn State might provide a blueprint for the softball team going forward on how to be successful.
Defensive execution and resiliency were key in MSU’s (16-17 overall, 1-5 Big Ten), 8-6 win against Penn State (17-16 overall, 2-4 Big Ten) at Secchia Stadium.
“I think this needs to be the standard of softball that we need to play,” senior outfielder Stephanie Sanders. “We just need to stay at it and keep competing.”
MSU, who ranks third to last in the Big Ten conference in fielding percentage, played a clean game defensively on Sunday.
“(The defense) was outstanding, you play errorless ball it gives your team a chance to win,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said.
The abundance of miscues defensively has resulted in a 1-4 conference record and it’s no coincidence that MSU also ranks third to last in the Big Ten standings after two series.
“I’m obviously disappointed, we didn’t win the series and we could have,” Joseph said. “We got to play better as a whole.”
MSU didn’t commit an error for the first time in two weeks. In the last five games leading up to Sunday, the Spartans committed a combined 12 errors.
“The defense was outstanding, it was so nice to see they had the pitchers back,” Sanders said. “Our defense just stepped up and that’s what needs to happen.”
Sanders had a big day at the plate, notching two hits including a solo homerun off the scoreboard.
Against the Nittany Lions, it was another high scoring contest as the teams combined to score seven runs in the first four innings.
MSU and Penn State traded runs in the early innings before the Spartans tacked on five runs in the fourth and fifth innings to pull away.
The ability to stay dialed in and keep competing on every at bat is a theme for the Spartans this season.
“It’s a new era in fast pitch, it’s a slugfest,” Joseph said. “It’s across the country not just here, you just have to stay in it and keep scoring.”
MSU will be tested over the next three weeks with matchups against Rutgers, Minnesota and Michigan on tap. The three schools are a combined 14-4 in conference play thus far.
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