April 13, 2011
EVANSTON, Ill. - The Michigan State softball team (21-18, 3-7 Big Ten) split its doubleheader with Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, April 13. The Spartans made quick work of the Wildcats in game one, winning in five innings by a score of 13-4. NU rebounded with a 4-2 victory to close out the doubleheader. Both senior Lindsey Hansen and junior Brett Williams ended the day going 3-of-5 at the plate with a double, a home run and seven total bases.
"We played well defensively both games," said head coach Jacquie Joseph. "Obviously, the first game we just unloaded offensively, which was awesome. The second game, we could have had it, too, but we just lost too many chances. We played good defense, we just could not score enough runs. Overall, we played two games well, defensively, and that was my goal. Had we played this well before, we definitely would have won more games."
The Spartans got off to a hot start with three runs in the first inning. Williams blasted her 12th homer of the season with a shot over the left-field fence to drive in juniors Lauren Kramer and Lori Padilla. Williams now ranks tied for third in a single season alongside Cailtlin Mahoney. Williams' 24th career homer also ranks her tied for third at MSU for a career.
After a 1-2-3 bottom half of the first, the Spartans put the game out of reach in the top of the second with five additional runs. Kramer drove in the opening run of the inning with a single to center field to score sophomore Kylene Hopkins from second. The remainder of the runs were scored off a grand slam by junior Ali Grant, who homered to left field. Grant also drove in Williams, Kramer and Hansen to give the Spartans an 8-0 lead at the end of the inning.
Freshman Cassee Layne made quick work on the rubber with the next three Northwestern batters, retiring the side in order in the bottom of the second.
Senior Jessica Bracamonte recorded the third MSU home run of the game when she put the ball over the center-field fence for two-run shot. Bracamonte's homer also brought in Hopkins from first.
Layne's perfect game was spoiled in the third when the Wildcats recorded four runs on four hits in the bottom of the third. Jordan Wheeler doubled to bring in the first run of the game for Northwestern in Lauren Ackerman. The next run came home when Adrienne Monka recorded an infield single to drive home Wheeler. Marisa Bast brought in the final two runs with a single through the left side, scoring both Robin Thompson and Kristin Scharkey. Northwestern ended the inning trailing 10-4.
Williams scored the lone MSU run in the top of the fourth when she cross home off a sacrifice fly to left by sophomore Jenny Ramsaier.
The Spartans recorded two final runs in the fifth, giving the team at least a run in each inning, when Hansen became the single season home run leader with her 14th homer of the season to right field. Hansen also scored Padilla on the homer.
The win marked MSU's first against Northwestern since 2005, which is also the last time the Spartans defeated NU on the road. The victory also snapped the Wildcats' 12-game win streak over the Green and White.
Layne recorded her 13th complete game of the year with the win, improving to 9-12 on the season for the Spartans. Layne ended the game with four runs on seven hits and four walks. Layne struck three batters faced.
Jessica Smith took the loss for the Wildcats, falling to 6-7 on the season. Smith pitched 2.1 innings of work, allowing nine runs on seven hits. Meghan Lamberth threw the final 2.2 innings of the contest, allowing four runs on four hits. Combined, Smith and Lamberth struck out five batters.
"I have so much respect for Northwestern, because I know how good they are. They are a very talented club. I just wanted to see our kids play well and compete the way that we can. I felt we competed well both games, just came up a little short both games," Joseph said following her team's win over the Wildcats.
The Spartans continued their offense in game two as they scored the first run of the contest. Williams' team-high fourth RBI of the day occurred when she singled to center to bring home Hansen, giving MSU the 1-0 lead.
Emily Allard singled up the middle to tie the game with Wheeler crossing home. Monka gave the Wildcats their first lead of the day when she homered to left center to score Allard from second. Northwestern ended the fifth with a 3-1 lead.
Scharkey gave NU an insurance run when she singled home Ackerman in the bottom of the sixth. The Wildcats held a 4-1 advantage at the end of six and never looked back.
Freshman Sarah Bowling posted her second career home run in the top of the seventh to pull MSU with two at 4-2. Bowling put the ball over the opposite fence in right.
Sammy Albanese pitched a complete game for Northwestern, improving to 6-4 this season. Albanese allowed only two runs on five hits.
Sophomore Shelby Wise allowed four runs on seven hits as she falls to an even 3-3 on the year. In 6.0 innings of work, Wise struck out three batters while only walking one batter.
Following a weekend off, the Spartans return to action next Wednesday, April 20, when they host Purdue for their third-straight midweek doubleheader. Game one is scheduled to start at 3 p.m., with the second contest expected to start at 5 p.m.