MSU softball concluded its first home series of the season as the Spartans faced Maryland Sunday afternoon. Third baseman Kaitlyn Eveland recorded two runs and a hit in one at-bat as the Spartans won and swept the Terrapins, 6-2.
It is the first time MSU swept a Big Ten opponent since March 2013 when the Spartans swept Indiana.
“The sweep actually means less to me than the importance of winning today," MSU head coach Jacquie Joseph said. "It's hard to beat teams three times in a row, but we can’t focus on winning three straight — the focus needs to be, even though it's a cliche, that you have to focus on that day’s game only. We did a nice job of getting some timely hitting and sticking to our game plan. We got good pitching performances from all three pitchers all weekend, and that’s the recipe for success for us."
Junior left-handed pitcher Bridgette Rainey was credited with the win as she pitched three innings, allowing two hits and one run and improved her record to 10-5 on the season.
The Spartans got on the board early and often on Sunday.
Junior centerfielder Lea Foerster led off for the Spartans in the first inning and opened with a double to centerfield, which was the Portage, Mich. native’s 41st career double.
Foerster, who logged one run and a hit in the win, proceeded to advance to third after a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Ebonee Echols.
Eveland then singled down the right-field line and recorded a RBI as Foerster scored, giving MSU a 1-0 lead. With Eveland on base, senior first baseman Sarah Gutknecht hammered a ball over the centerfield wall for a two-run home run.
MSU couldn’t add on to its lead as the Spartans went into the second inning with a 3-0 lead.
In the second inning, the Spartans extended their lead to four as sophomore right fielder Lexi White faced a 1-1 count and drilled a ball over the left field wall.
At the top of the third, redshirt-junior Kristina Zalewski was replaced on the mound by Rainey.
The Terrapins threatened in the fourth frame as Rainey allowed Maryland’s first three batters to get on base with no outs.
As the bases were loaded and two outs in the inning, Rainey walked Maryland’s Juli Strange, which allowed shortstop Anna Kufta to score for the Terrapins' first run of the game and cut the deficit to three.
Rainey prevented any further bleeding as she ended the bases-loaded jam by striking out Amanda Brashear.
In the fifth, the Spartans loaded the bases with one out in the inning.
Maryland’s Hannah Dewey walked her fourth batter of the day, which sent Echols home for the Spartans’ fifth run of the game.
Shortstop McKenzie Long followed up at bat for MSU and registered a RBI as she singled and sent Eveland home to extend the Spartans’ lead to five.
The Terrapins closed in on MSU’s lead in the sixth.
With the bases loaded and Jordan Watson replacing Rainey at the mound, Amanda Brashear reached first on a fielder’s choice. Kristina Dillard scored on the fielder's choice play, but the Terrapins still trailed, 6-2.
In the seventh, SkylyneeEllazar tripled to left field, but couldn’t capitalize as Kristina Dillard flied out to left field to secure a Spartan victory.
MSU will now look to continue its four-game winning streak when it faces Penn State next weekend in a three-game series at home.
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