After scoring the first two runs of the game, Michigan State softball gave up five consecutive runs to their in-state rivals, the Michigan Wolverines, to lose the matchup by a score of 5-3.
The green and white started off the third inning strong, loading the bases with no outs. Starting right-handed pitcher Lauren Derkowski then pitched a fielder’s choice at home and a pop-out to give the Spartans only one out to work with. Freshman outfielder Kayla Bane then stepped up to the plate and was able to drive in a run after Derkowski could not make a play on her ground ball, resulting in an error for Derkowski. That was all the scoring MSU could muster in the inning though.
One inning later, Michigan State loaded up the bases, this time with one out. Once again, they only managed to get one run in the inning thanks to an RBI fielder’s choice to second off the bat of freshman second baseman Mandy Esman.
The Wolverines were able to take the lead after a three run half-inning to start the fourth. Senior utility player Audrey LeClair got the scoring started with an RBI triple, then she scored on the next at-bat off a throwing error. Junior right-handed pitcher Ashley Miller then came in to relieve Guidry of her duties but wasn’t able to keep the score tied as graduate student outfielder Lexie Blair pushed a single through the right side to give U-M a one run advantage. Miller then forced two straight groundouts to end U-M’s run.
MSU started off the bottom of the fourth threatening to score with a runner on second and one out, but Wolverine graduate student right fielder Ellie Mataya made an incredible diving play to get the put out, then immediately threw the ball to second to catch senior shortstop Anna Fox off the bag for the inning-ending double-play.
Michigan extended its lead to three runs in the top of the sixth inning as Blair recorded an RBI double with Tholl adding in an RBI single.
That was all the scoring for the rest of the game as U-M shut the door the rest of the way, leaving East Lansing with a win.
Sophomore catcher Macy Lee had arguably the best day at the plate for the Spartans as she went 2-3. She said her success all came down to her decision making in the batter’s box.
“Really just deciding whether to sit like a faster pitch like a screw or curve or settle to sit on a changeup,” Lee said. “Just really being decisive at the plate has helped our team.”
It was the first taste of the rivalry as head coach for Sharonda McDonald-Kelley, and while the loss was disappointing, she thought it was cool to finally understand what the game feels like.
“I knew what to expect but you don't really know what to expect,” McDonald-Kelley said. “Once you get into it, you get to feel it. And I thought it was awesome. I played in rivalry games throughout my life and it just brought back some really cool feelings. And I told our team there's just nothing like this. Every move you make you get the crowd excited, it's really cool.”
With the Big Ten season reaching around its halfway point, MSU sits at the bottom of the league in win total. With the schedule looking favorable in the coming weeks, McDonald-Kelley knows her team has to capitalize.
“We hold our destiny in our own hands,” McDonald-Kelley said. “Right now, we're sitting in the bottom of the league, and we're very clear about where we're at. But we also have a clear expectation of what we need to do, and we play the rest of the bottom of the league, so we have an opportunity to move up in the standings and get ourselves in the postseason tournament and make a run from there.”
With the loss, MSU moves to 11-22 on the season. They will stay in East Lansing this weekend as Minnesota will come to Secchia Stadium for a three game series.