The pitching staff has been a sore spot for the softball team this season but help could come from a pitcher on the mend.
Redshirt sophomore Dani Goranson started her second game of the season Tuesday against Eastern Michigan and made a relief appearance on Wednesday against Michigan.
Goranson missed all of the 2014 season with a shoulder injury and had only made seven appearances this season before Tuesday’s matinee.
Goranson said she’s not quite at 100 percent yet, but is happy to be back on the field.
“It feels amazing (to be back), I didn’t think it was going to happen at all this year or anytime soon,” she said.
She started 17 games in 2013, posting a 3.84 ERA and finishing with a 4-8 record. A 3.48 ERA this year would give Goranson the second lowest ERA on a staff, which has struggled this season and has combined for an ERA north of five runs per game.
“Dani is the kind of kid that’s got that mental edge,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “Dani’s not one to back down from a fight.”
On Tuesday, Goranson pitched 3.1 innings, allowed one run on two hits and posted three strikeouts.
MSU (16-26 overall, 1-12 Big Ten) left 14 runners on base and fell to Eastern Michigan, 6-5 in extra innings.
Goranson said she is on a pitch count but that didn’t stop Joseph from summoning the former four-year letter winner out of the bullpen the next day.
Goranson wasn’t as efficient Wednesday. She walked her first batter and then gave up a run on a pass ball to the next batter. On the day, she pitched one inning and allowed two earned runs.
Michigan defeated MSU in five innings, 10-0.
“Dani looked tired to me,” Joseph said. “She had a couple of batters there where she was super super sharp but then you could tell she had what we call a tired arm.”
Goranson said she still has some progress to make.
“I’m still working through a lot of things,” Goranson said.
When healthy she has the skill and athleticism to be a top pitcher. In high school, Goranson compiled an 83-17 record with a 1.20 ERA.
If dominating one sport wasn’t enough, she was a letterwinner on the varsity basketball team at Elk Grove High School (Ill.) as well.
Joseph said she will be cautious in how she uses Goranson.
“I don’t want to have her hurt herself again,” she said.
Joseph also left the door open to using Goranson this weekend against Minnesota, who holds the second best record in the conference.
For now, her head coach is mostly happy with what she brings to the team off the mound.
“I’m pleased with the fact that (Dani) shows the kind of swag and poise on the mound I’m trying to teach the other kids,” Joseph said. “She sets a great example that way.”