April 28, 2012
LINCOLN, Neb. - The Michigan State softball squad traveled to Lincoln, Neb. on Saturday (April 28) to face Nebraska for the first time since they joined the Big Ten. The first game of the double-header was tied until the Cornhuskers took the game in the sixth inning, defeating MSU 5-3. The Spartans were unable to score in the second matchup of the day, falling to Nebraska 3-0.
Nebraska scored first with one run in the bottom of the first, but MSU took the lead in the third with a three-run homer. Junior Kylene Hopkins led off with a single to center field and a single by senior Ali Grant put runners on first and second. Next up was sophomore Sarah Bowling, who smacked a longball into right center, earning three RBI and putting the Spartans up 3-1. The homerun was Bowling's fourth of the season and 22nd of her career.
The Cornhuskers responded with two runs in the next half inning to make it a tie game. There were runners on second and third when a sacrifice fly allowed the runner on third to come home and the tying run came off a single by Mattie Fowler. The game stayed tied 3-3 until the Cornhuskers regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth with two runs. Michigan State couldn't capitalize in the top of the seventh and ultimately fell 5-3 to Nebraska.
Freshman Carly Nielsen was the starter for MSU and was in the circle for 3.2 innings. The newcomer was given the loss as she allowed all five runs to the Cornhuskers. Senior Rebecca Rogers also saw action in the first game of the day and was on the rubber for 2.1 innings.
Hopkins led the offense for Michigan State in the first game, reaching base three times in four appearances at the plate. The center fielder notched two hits and was walked once. Bowling also contributed to the offense, tabbing all three of MSU's RBI and posting two hits.
Sophomore Cassee Layne was the starting pitcher for the Spartans in the second matchup of the double-header and didn't allow a run until the fourth inning. Nebraska was up 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning after a three-run homer by Fowler.
MSU's greatest opportunity to score came in the sixth inning as Bowling reached third base, but a ground out by the next batter left her stranded. The Spartans threatened again in top of the seventh when runners were on second and third with no outs, but MSU couldn't make the most of the opportunity and were unable to score.
Layne pitched for her fourth complete game of the year, only giving up three hits in six innings of work. On the offense, redshirt freshman Stephanie Sanders went two for three at the plate, posting two singles for the Spartans.
Michigan State will conclude the three-game series with Nebraska tomorrow (April 29) at 2 p.m. ET, which will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.