Michigan State softball suffered a loss to Michigan 3-0 Tuesday night, their second loss against their rivals and the last time these two teams will meet in the regular season.
Despite the loss, sophomore starting pitcher Ashley Miller left it all on the mound. She finished the game with 10 strikeouts and only allowed five hits and three runs.
“Ashley was lights out tonight,” Michigan State Head Coach Jacquie Joseph said. “You know, I thought she did a great job. She missed a couple. They made us pay.”
Although Miller had a solid performance, Michigan senior starting pitcher Alex Storako took home the win, throwing a one-hitter against the Spartans and striking out 13.
“I thought Alex Storako had a special night,” Joseph said. “Whatever it is about us, she loves us. You know, she's top five in the country in strikeouts, and she proved it tonight.”
The Wolverines struck first in the top of the third with back-to-back doubles. Freshman outfielder Ellie Sieler hit one to the gap in left-center field and then fans got deja vu when graduate student outfielder Kristina Burkhardt doubled to the same gap Sieler had just hit to bring her home and put the Wolverines up 1-0.
Miller was able to recover and get the next batter out, but senior catcher Hannah Carson wasn't ready for the scoring to stop. She doubled to left-center field as well, the third player of the inning to do so, bringing home Burkhardt and giving her team a 2-0 lead over the Spartans.
The Spartans had no answer for Storako, but Michigan came back ready to play in the top of the fourth inning. They had runners in scoring position when freshman infielder Ella McVey grounded into a double play with no outs to give MSU some much-needed relief. However, a run did score on the play and the Wolverines increased their lead to 3-0. Sieler was then caught stealing to end the inning and save the Spartans from the Michigan bats as they were heating up.
After the fourth inning, however, the Michigan bats joined the Spartans in silence in what became a pitcher's duel for the remaining three innings. It looked as if Storako was on her way to throwing a no-hitter until junior first baseman Camryn Wincher stepped up to the plate with one out in the bottom of the seventh. She singled to right field to give the Spartans their only hit of the night, breaking up the no-hitter. MSU however was not able to build off her hit and the Spartans were stuck with the loss 3-0.
Despite the outcome, Joseph was proud of the competitiveness and defensive play she saw from her team.
“I loved the way we competed tonight,” Joseph said. “You know our backs are against the wall, and I'll tell you this, if we play like this, we're gonna have a nice end of the season here.”
The Spartans have three more conference series against Purdue, Maryland and Rutgers ahead of them to end the regular season. They'll begin this last stretch of the season when they head to West Lafayette, Indiana on Friday to take on the Boilermakers.
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