Michigan State softball could not overcome a seven-run outburst from Purdue in the sixth inning as they were bombed, 9-6, in a rain-soaked battle on Saturday afternoon with the Boilermakers. The Spartans fell to 1-2 in the weekend series against Purdue and 8-16 overall on the season.
MSU enjoyed a 6-2 lead entering the sixth inning and seemed in complete control of the game before surrendering a seven-run inning to the Boilermakers, which was the final offensive output from either team for the remainder of the game.
The crooked inning for Purdue started with a three-run home run by Designated Player Alex Echazarreta that soared over the center-field wall into the Red Cedar River to cut the lead to 6-5. The Boilermakers had five more batters reach base in the inning, scoring four of them to score seven in the inning and take a 9-6 lead after trailing all game.
“We were doing everything well,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “I thought we battled out of the elements well: it was raining the entire game. That changes the game a little bit. So that was a great start, you know, I really felt good about it. And then I really could tell that I felt our team just let their foot off the gas. I think that what we talked about is this game will humble you if you don't respect it, and I didn't think we respected the game after we got a lead.”
The Spartans tried to answer back in the sixth and seventh inning, but the three-run lead proved to be insurmountable as Savanah Henley for Purdue shut down MSU and held them hitless over the final three innings of the game, earning her third win of the season.
“I feel like we more just gave in to them,” MSU senior Caitie Ladd said. “After the fourth inning or so, we just didn't come out with the same mindset of attacking it or laying off a changeup or adjusting to, it was her changeup that got us, and I think that for tomorrow, we're just gonna have to adjust her changeup because that's what was getting all us.”
The Spartans honored seniors Laney Joyner and Alli Walker prior to the game as they competed in the final home series of their college careers. MSU honored Riley Paxson prior to the doubleheader on Friday and will honor the fourth and final senior, Joanna Bartz, on Sunday before the final game of the series.
Walker started the game on the mound for the Spartans and was dominant early. She struck out four of the six batters she faced in the first two innings and allowed only one base runner. Walker was replaced by sophomore Sarah Ladd after the first batter of the third inning while being on the hook for the win thanks to early run support from MSU’s offense.
Joyner also had a nice game in her senior day with an RBI double and a diving catch in left field that was a defensive highlight of the game.
“Alli tries that hard every time,” Joseph said. “She doesn't always have success, but Alli is pretty darn consistent. Her mentality, her approach. She was just really effective today. Laney is more about matchups, you know, we thought Laney could have some success against this team.”
The Spartans jumped on Purdue starter Sydney Bates, scoring three runs with two outs in the first inning. Alexis Barroso started the rally with a single to keep the inning alive and gave MSU a chance to capitalize. The Spartans had two triples from Jenae Wash and Zaquai Dumas that drove in three runs to give MSU the early advantage.
Barroso was the leading player at the plate for the Spartans with a career-high three hits for the freshman third baseman. The other infielder from the left side of the field, shortstop Caitie, was the only other MSU player with multiple hits of MSU’s nine as a team.
“The second pitcher (Henley) was pretty difficult, honestly, with her changeup,” Barroso said. “I felt that moving up in the box was a really good idea for me being able to swing full through and not slowing back down on the changeup is pretty hard. But yeah, I really just tried to drive the ball today.”
The Spartans added three more runs between the second and fourth inning to add insurance to the Spartans' lead while Sarah continued to navigate the Purdue batting order. Sarah allowed two runs prior to the sixth inning, allowing MSU to maintain a sizable four-run lead before the team’s eventual collapse in the sixth.
Michigan State will try to even up the series with Purdue tomorrow in the fourth and final game of the series before moving on to face Indiana on April 30 in Bloomington.
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