Right handed pitcher Kristina Zalewski struck out nine in a complete game performance, outfielder Lea Foerster and catcher Kelcey Carrasco each homered in a big sixth inning, which left softball to pull away from Central Michigan University late in an 8-1 victory Wednesday afternoon.
The game did not get off to an ideal start for the Spartans, as an error and four straight base hits to open the game allowed the Chippewas to gain a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. However, Zalewski was able to induce soft contact and escape the inning with only one run allowed.
“I kinda just turned it around when they got bases loaded,” the senior from Ann Arbor said. “I didn’t want them to score anymore. I knew our team was gonna score and get that one run back, but I wanted to get us out of it without any more damage.”
Foerster said that the great escape in the first inning energized a team in the midst of playing eight games in eleven days.
“In those situations, we’ve been there before,” the senior said. “We trust (Zalewski) on the mound, we know she’s gonna get us out of it. Once we get that third out, we get in the dugout, we get really pumped, like we’re gonna go get that run back.”
The Spartan bats woke up in the bottom of the third with three hits and two runs, thanks in large part to Carrasco’s RBI double.
“Every day, day in, day out, you prepare for the game,” Carrasco said. “You’re more than ready to do what I did today. I think I’ve been struggling a little bit. I just felt so good today.”
Head coach Jacquie Joseph attributed the team’s growth at the plate partially to the changing of the seasons.
“Temperatures are getting warmer. We’re getting a chance to practice,” she said. “Bats are warming up. We’re starting to feel ourselves offensively. We’re starting to really swing it like I thought we were capable of swinging it. We’ve got a lot of kids squaring up a lot of balls.”
Zalewski recorded her 600th career strikeout in the 3rd inning, but she swears she had no idea.
“I actually didn’t know until after the game, one of my teammates told me,” she said. “It’s pretty awesome.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Foerster and Carrasco both launched long two-run home runs to end any hopes of a Chippewa comeback and establish the final score of 8-1.
Foerster, who leads the team in home runs with 10, was asked about her outburst of power postgame.
“I have some that I mishit a little bit and it sometimes just catches wind and goes out. But that one definitely was a no-doubter,” she said. “I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s the highest thing you do as a hitter, and you do it so few times throughout a season. It’s just awesome.”
Joseph was pleased with the back-to-back midweek wins against instate opponents Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan.
“What would you like to have happen going into this weekend? Well, I would like to have this happen," Joseph said. "We feel like we’re right there.”
The Spartans take on Rutgers in a three-game weekend series at Secchia Stadium. The first pitch for Friday’s opener is set for 4:05 p.m.
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