Feb. 25, 2012
BOCA RATON, Fla. - The Michigan State softball team split the first day of the Strike-Out Cancer tournament, defeating Loyola Marymount 6-5 then falling to No. 24 Auburn 4-1. With a win and a loss, MSU advanced to a 2-8 record on the season.
In the first game of the day, the Spartans were the first to get on the board with a run in the top of the third. With two outs, senior Ali Grant shot a triple into left field. A throwing error by the LMU shortstop paved the way for her to round the bases and put MSU up 1-0.
MSU continued producing in the fourth inning, scoring five runs. Senior Melanie Bensema started off the inning with a single through the left side. Freshman Alyssa McBride followed suit with a single then advanced to second on the throw. A single into right field from junior Jayme O'Bryant allowed McBride to score and put the Spartans up by two. Back-to-back singles from junior Jenny Ramsaier and freshman McKinzie Freimuth loaded the bases then a double by Mary Kate DiVirgilio, who pinch hit for senior Lori Padilla, scored three runs. Junior Kylene Hopkins singled then advanced to second on the throw and allowed Padilla to notch the fifth run of the inning.
Sophomore Cassee Layne backed up the Spartan offense with a solid performance in the bottom of the fourth. The right-hander pitched a one-two-three inning and striking out two LMU batters.
The Lions narrowed the gap by two runs in the fifth. With runners on first and third, a double by Sam Fisher and an error by the Spartan center fielder allowed two runs. LMU further threatened in the bottom of the seventh posting three runs, but the Spartans remained poised to finish the game with a 6-5 win.
Layne pitched for a total of six innings, only allowing four hits and striking out seven batters. Senior Rebecca Rogers closed the game in the seventh facing six batters and allowing two runs.
Michigan State then took to the field to face No. 24 Auburn in their second game of the tournament. The Tigers jumped on the board early with a two-run homer into center field by Caitlin Jordan.
MSU responded in the next half-inning to narrow the Auburn lead to one. Padilla started off the Spartan offense by reaching first on an error. A sacrifice bunt by Hopkins advanced Padilla to second, than a double by Grant allowed Padilla to reach home.
Auburn continued the scoring with a two-out rally in the third. With runners on first and third, Morgan Estell singled to the shortstop allowing one run to score. The final run was scored by the Tigers in the fourth inning due to a walked batter then a double into left center.
Freshman Carly Nielsen pitched a complete game against Auburn. The right-hander struck out five batters and allowed four runs off only five hits. On the day, the Michigan State offense produced two doubles and one triple, with Grant posting one of each.
The Spartans will wrap up the Strike-Out Cancer Tournament tomorrow (Feb. 26) with back-to-back games against host Florida Atlantic at 9 a.m. and Tulsa at 11 a.m.