May 18, 2017
Box Score | PDF Box : MSU 4, ILST 3
Michigan State staged another late-game rally, scoring a tying run in the sixth and the winning run with one out in the seventh to down Illinois State in the first of two games in the regional championship round of the National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC). Ebonee Echols delivered the walkoff hit with one out in the seventh inning that broke a 3-3 tie, helping MSU improve to 34-23 and force a winner-take--all game in Region 3 at 4 m ET today
The Redbirds took a 2-0 lead on a two-run homer in the second inning by Alyssa Wiebel, and the Spartans countered in the bottom of the third on a base hit by Lindsey Besson and double from Ebonee Echols; a Redbird error on a ball put in play by Lea Foerster allowed the speedy Echols to come around from second to tie the game.
After the nome team took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth on an RBI single by the Redbirds' top hitter, Jordan de los Reyes knocked home a go-ahead marker for her only hit of the day. Appison Spence and Wiebel each had two hits for Illinois State. (32-22).
MSU tied the game on a double by Lexi White in the sixth, and after a leadoff single by Melanie Baccay, she was sacrificed to second by Lindsey Besson. Echols delivered her second double to end the game with just one out on the board.
Kristina Zalewski earned the win to improve to 8-8 on the year, striking out nine and scattering six hits.
The two teams meet again at 4 pm ET for the right to advance into next week's championship round, which begins Sunday.
Ebonee Echols went 2-for-3 with two doubles, two RBI and a run scored.
Lexi White had a sixth-innig RBI double.
Kristina Zalewski earned the victory with five innings pitched, scattering five hits and striking out nine.
"One of the greatest things about our team is the confidence we have in our offense. We never thought the game was over, never hung our heads, never gave up. We were tenacious, both at the plate and in the circle - this was a team win, thanks to everyone doing their part and their bottom-line refusal to want to see our season come to an end. Now, we have a big chance ahead of us tomorrow - we will get some badly needed rest and take on an Illinois State team that is very talented and has its home crowd behind it".
Head Coach Jacquie Joseph
STATS AND STORYLINES
In the second inning, Allison Spence led off with a single to right, and lyssa Wiebel hit her eighth homer of the season to give the home team an early lead, 2-0.
In the bottom of the third, MSU got a one-out base hit from Lindsey Besson and followed that with a double from Ebonee Echols to cut the lead in half. A fly ball to left center by Lea Foerster was mishandled by the center fielder Annie Heineman, which allowed Echols to come around on the error to tie the game.
Back-to-back singles by Riley Strandgard and Wiebel put two on with one out in the top of the fourth., but Zalewski got out of the jam with a ground ball and a strikeout, her seventh of the day, to end the inning. Zalewski surrendered two runs and four hits over four innings in the start.
Bridgette Rainey came on to throw in the fifth and sixth innings for MSU, and sandwiched a strikeout around a pair of walks issued to Alex Caliva and Shannon Felde. That brought Jordan de los Reye, the leading hitter for the Redbirds, to the plate - and she smacked a shot up the left field line for an RBI single that gave the home team a 3-2 lead. The two runners advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch, but she got a ground ball and a popout to end the inning. Rainey walked two in the top of the sixth, but worked out of that jam as well.
MSU got a one-out single from Kelcey Carrasco in the bottom of the sixth, but she was out at second on a fielder's choice by Eveland, who moved to second on a passed ball. Lexi White stepped in and set a shot up the left field line for a double that scored Eveland for second to knot the game 3-3.
Zalewski re-entered in the seventh for the Spartans, and after she retired the No. 2 and No. 3 hitters on strikeouts, an infield single by Spence off the glove of Zalewski put the go-ahead run on base for the Redbirds. She got out of the inning on a long fly ball by Strandegard that Foerster corralled on the warning track to end the frame.
Melanie Baccay stroked a single to left to lead off the inning, and Lindsey Besson laid down a nice sac bunt to move her runner over to second. Ebonee Echols then shot her second double of the day into left center to bring Baccay around to score.
MSU had three players earn NFCA All-Region honors, which were announcd Thursday morning. Lea Foerster and Kaitlyn Eveland were First Team selections, and Kelcey Carrasco was named to the Second Team.