May 2, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
The Michigan State softball team will close out the 2012 season with an eight-game home stretch beginning this week. MSU faces Western Michigan on Thursday (May 3rd) at 5 p.m. ET before hosting Northwestern over the weekend. The series with the Wildcats begins with a doubleheader on Saturday (May 5) at 1 p.m. and concludes on Sunday (May 6) at 1 p.m. The home action continues on Monday (May 7) with a nonconference tilt against IPFW at 5 p.m.
Thursday's matchup will mark the 86th meeting between the Spartans and Western Michigan. MSU trails the Broncos in the all-time series 45-41, but defeated WMU 4-0 last year (May 4). MSU looks to close the gap in the all-time series with Northwestern, as they trail 66-29 against the Wildcats. Michigan State will face IPFW for the ninth time in school history and are undefeated against Mastodons, leading the all-time record 8-0.
Last Time Out...
Last weekend Michigan State traveled to Lincoln, Neb. to face the Cornhuskers for the first time as conference rivals. The first game of the doubleheader was tied 3-3 for three innings, but MSU couldn't hold off the No. 3 offense in the Big Ten and fell 5-3. The Spartans were unable to score in the second matchup of the day, falling to Nebraska 3-0. Severe weather on Sunday (April 29) forced the cancelation of the third game between Michigan State and Nebraska.
Spartan Scouting Report...
Leading the offense for the Green and White junior Kylene Hopkins, who is batting .400 at the plate. The center fielder tops the team in hits (54), doubles (12), walks (21) and on base percentage (.484) and has reached base in 21 straight games. Hopkins owns 20 RBIs, which is tied with sophomore Sarah Bowling for most on the team. Bowling has recorded seven multiple RBI games and a .515 slugging percentage. Senior Lori Padilla boasts a .324 batting average and has posted the most runs for MSU with 28 scored.
The pitching responsibilities for the Spartans has primarily been split between freshman Carly Nielsen
and sophomore Cassee Layne
. Nielsen has a team-best 5.84 ERA and has struck out 49 batters in 115.0 innings of work. Layne has been in the circle for 114.2 innings, posting 68 Ks and an ERA of 6.72.
Michigan State is currently 11-36 on the season and 0-17 in the Big Ten.
Western Michigan Scouting Report...
The Broncos come to East Lansing, Mich. with a 23-21 overall and 9-9 MAC record. WMU is led offensively by Tara Buchannan, who owns a team-best .320 average, .574 slugging percentage, .461 on base percentage and eight home runs. Leading the team in runs and hits is Courtney Rousseau, who has tabbed 28 and 42, respectively.
Meredith Whitney tops the pitching staff with a 2.33 ERA and 188 strikeouts in 168.1 innings. Whitney has been on the rubber for 20 complete games and is 15-11 on the season.
Northwestern Scouting Report...
Northwestern is currently 21-26 overall and is 8-10 in Big Ten play. With a conference-best .415 batting average and 55 RBIs, Marisa Bast leads the Wildcats at the plate. Bast tops the team in home runs (12), runs (37), doubles (6), triples (3), slugging percentage (.770) and on base percentage (.524). Adrinne Monka has also contributed to the NW offense. The Big Ten Player of the Week is batting .300, slugging .617 and has been walked 41 times.
Meghan Lamberth has started the most games in the circle for Northwestern, with 22 started in 36 appearances. Lamberth owns a 3.77 ERA, 65 strikeouts and a 9-11 record in 132.0 innings of work.
IPFW Scouting Report...
Alex Bousquet is heading the offense for IPFW with a .371 batting average. Bousquet is No. 1 on the team in runs (45), slugging percentage (.594), walks (31) and on base percentage (.533). With 56 RBIs, Ashleigh Bousquet leads the team in that category while Larissa Franklin has notched a team-best 62 hits.
In the circle, Courtney Cronin is posting a 1.24 ERA in 136.0 innings. Cronin has a 17-2 record on the season and has struck out 108 batters. Miranda Kramer leads the team in Ks with 117 strikeouts and has a 1.96 ERA in 103.2 innings on the rubber.
The Mastodons are currently 39-12 overall and have a 14-7 record in the Summit League.
Big Ten Rankings...
As of Wednesday (May 2), Michigan State ranks in the top half of the Big Ten in six categories. MSU is tied for second in saves with four and is tied for fourth in fielding double plays with 15. The Spartans are also fifth in steal attempts (53), triples (6) and are tied for fifth in stolen bases (39). With 32 sacrifice bunts, Michigan State sits in sixth place in that category.
The entire Spartan pitching staff sees itself sitting atop the conference standings, including sophomore Cassee Layne who is tied for ninth in batters struck out looking (30) and is 11th in appearances (32). Junior Shelby Wise is second in the Big Ten for games in relief with 17 and is only behind freshman Carly Nielsen who has been in relief 18 times. Nielsen is also tied for first in saves (3), tied for fifth in appearances (36) and is tied with senior Rebecca Rogers for first in games finished (13). With 15 games in relief, Rogers also sits in fourth place in the league for that category.
Defensively, freshman McKinzie Freimuth is tied for fifth in fielding double plays will 11 and is ninth in putouts with a team-best 287. The first basemen also ranks 10th in the Big Ten for fielding chances with 305.
At the plate, junior Kylene Hopkins owns the third-best batting average in the league as she is batting .400. The center fielder is also sixth in on base percentage (.484), tied for eighth in doubles (12) and is 10th for hits (54). Senior Ali Grant is third in the conference in sacrifice flies with three.
The Spartans will remain at home next weekend when they conclude the 2012 season with Indiana. The final series of the year begins at 5 p.m. ET on Friday (May 11). On Saturday (May 12), MSU and the Hoosiers will face off in a doubleheader at 3 p.m., which will be aired live on the Big Ten Network.