Weekend recap for softball
It was a wild weekend for the softball team.
MSU (16-20 overall, 1-8 Big Ten) played an extra innings game on Friday and scored 17 runs on Saturday but could not pick up a win in Piscataway, N.J. against Rutgers (19-9 overall, 7-2 Big Ten).
Rutgers completed the sweep on Sunday, defeating MSU, 5-2.
Friday’s extra innings game, which started at 4 p.m. was delayed until Saturday due to darkness after nine innings of action.
The Scarlet Knights responded right away in the bottom of the inning. Sophomore pitcher Valerie Kaff surrendered a leadoff walk, which came back to haunt her.
Rutgers’ sophomore first baseman Bridget Carr singled in the game-winning run off Kaff to dash the Spartans’ hopes.
Things only got weirder on Saturday.
Rutgers jumped on MSU early, scoring nine runs in the first three innings.
The Spartans’ bats came alive in a big way in the fourth inning as MSU erupted for 16 runs in the fourth inning.
Yes, you read that right, 16 runs. MSU put up three doubles and three home runs in the inning to take a 17-9 lead.
However, the Spartans couldn’t hold the eight run lead. For the second game in a row, walks doomed MSU.
Freshman pitcher Bridgette Rainey struggled to find the strike zone in the bottom of the fourth inning, surrendering three walks before being pulled for Kaff.
Kaff came in and gave up back-to-back singles as Rutgers cut the lead to 17-14. MSU was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.
The knockout blow came in the fifth inning when Rutgers posted eight runs to take a 22-17 lead, the score would hold.
“I’m trying to find the rhythm in our pitching staff, we just don’t have it right now,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “To score that many runs and not win is baffling to me.”
Compared to the first two games of the series, Sunday was fairly ordinary.
For the third consecutive game, Rutgers scored first and put MSU in an early hole.
Rainey once again could not control her pitches, which led to consecutive walks in the third inning.
“I was super pleased with the progress (Rainey) made from Saturday to Sunday,” coach Joseph said. “She still has to stop walks but she made some progress.”
The Scarlet Knights made Rainey pay, scoring both runners to take a 2-0 advantage.
Other than the eight walks, Rainey turned in a solid performance on Sunday. She threw her first complete game, scattering six hits in six innings while striking out four.
A solo homer from Sanders in MSU’s last at-bat wasn’t enough as Rutgers tacked on three insurance runs leading up to the final inning and held on for a 5-2 victory.
It’ll be a quick turnaround for MSU, who will come back to Secchia stadium on Wednesday to take on Toledo.
“I think we’ll refocus no problem,” Joseph said. “The players play extremely hard, there’s no lack of motivation on there part.”
The Spartans defeated Toledo last year in the Indiana University Tournament, 6-5.