Spartans Off to Illinois State for NISC Regional
MSU has won 10 of its last 15
|2017 NISC Tournament|
|Dates||May 16-18, 2017|
|Location||Normal, Ill. Marian Kneer Stadium||Tickets||Purchase Tickets|
|Live Statistics|| vs. Murray State, Tuesday. 5 pm ET
|Complete Bracket|| NISC Tournament Central
|Live Video Streams|| none |
|Radio Broadcast|| Spartan Sports Network Matt Tjapkes, pxp
Download the SSN App
|Download Game Notes||Michigan State | Illinois State | Murray State | IUPUI ||
|Social Media||@MSU_Softball | MichiganStateSoftball @MichStSB|
THE WEEKEND AHEAD
Michigan State has received a bid to the inaugural National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC). The Spartans are the automatic qualifier from the Big Ten.
MSU joins IUPUI, and Murray State at regional host Illinois State for the tournament, with games beginning on Tuesday at 4 pm when the Spartans take on Murray State. The double-elimination regional round will be contested May 16-18. The Championship round will take place May 23-25 at a site to be determined after regional play.
Spartan Sports Network continues its coverage of Spartan softball, and will provide a live broadcast from every game, home and away, for the remainder of the season. Matt Tjapkes is back for his third season on the call, with former Spartan standout Ali Grant and All-American and former pitching coach Jessica (Beech) Bograkos providing analysis on home games.
MSU has previously faced only one of these teams in this regional - the Spartans are 8-4 all-time against Illinois State, which includes a 7-4 win in the 2016 season. Much of the two teams' lineups are still intact from those games - for MSU, Lea Foerster went 4-for-4, scoring two runs and adding an RBI, while Ebonee Echols went 2-for-3. Kristina Zalewski entered in the third inning, and struck out six. For the Redbirds, Jordan de los Reyes was 3-for-4, and Riley Hale turned in a 2-for-3 effort at the plate, while Sarah Finch, Ali Domkuski, and Shannon Felde all saw action in the circle.
Regular-season champion Illinois State fell 2-0 in extra innings to Southern Illinois in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinal last Friday, and is 30-21 on the season. Career home-run leader and MVC Player of the Year Jessica de los Reyes, who is batting .401 with 19 homers and 14 doubles this season, with an impressive 67 RBI. She ranks fourth nationally in homers per game, and second in RBI per contest (1.34). Shannon Felde is hitting .379, and Allison Spence rounds out the top three with a .365 average. Sara Finck leads the pitching staff with a 21-11 record, 2.60 ERA in 204 innings pitched, with 76 strikeouts.
Murray State is MSU's first-round opponent. The Racers were fifth in the Ohio Valley Conference with an 11-7 overall record, and posted a 35-18 overall mark. Jessica Twaddle leads the Racers and is the two-time OVC Player of the Year and leads her team with a .404 average, 40 RBI, 12 doubles, and 13 home runs. Brenna Finck is batting .372, and Kaylee Ranburger is third, batting .357. Mason Robinson (201 IP, 1.95 ERA, 113 K) and Haven Campbell (101 IP, 3.65 ERA) have shouldered the load in the circle.
IUPUI won the Summit League regular-season title, but fell in the Summit League championship on Saturday, dropping both games to North Dakota State. Maggie Good leads the offensive charge for the Jaguars, batting .351 and smacking 14 homers for 49 RBI on the season. Roni Patterson is right behind with a .350 average, 12 hmers and 47 RBI, and Taylor Chitwood rounds out the top three with a .348 average, with 36 RBI. Nickole Finch has logged 188 innings in the circle, with a 4.91 ERA and 136 strikeouts, while Erica Tharp has tossed 119 innings and boasts a 4.66 ERA.
SPARTAN TEAM NOTES
Michigan State head coach Jacquie Joseph captured her 800th career victory with the 5-4 victory over Michigan in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
At 31-22, the Spartans have the most wins since the 2007 team went 33-26.
MSU has played three teams this season that appear in the NISC: Georgia State, and UNC-Wilmington. Five Big Ten teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament, in addition to MSU non-conference opponents Southern Illinois, Georgia, and Notre Dame.
Michigan State dropped a heartbreaker in the Big Ten semifinals on Saturday, 4-3, to No. 3 seed Ohio State. The Spartans were the No. 7 seed and upset No. 2 Michigan in the quarterfinals after dispatching Indiana in the first round on Thursday, 8-7.
Michigan State has won 10 of its last 15 games, including a pair of impressive late-inning rallies in the Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans scored four runs in the sixth to rally to down Indiana in the first round on Thursday, then stunned No. 2 seed Michigan with a three-run top of the seventh to post a 5-4 victory. MSU trailed Ohio State 4-0 in the semifinals, but the rally fell short - the Spartans scored three runs in the sixth but couldn't get a baserunner in the seventh.
The Spartans have had seven walkoff losses this season, and also had three walkoff victories. Overall, MSU played 15 one-run games this season and holds a 7-8 record in those contests.
MSU played just nine home games this season and owned a 8-1 mark on its home field. The 2017 season was supposed to feature a homestand that had 16 of 18 games at home, but the flooding of the Red Cedar River forced the relocation two B1G series (vs. Penn State and Illinois) to neutral sites as well as flipping a home game against Michigan (April 12) to Ann Arbor. MSU went 2-5 in the seven relocated games.
MSU is 8-1 at Secchia Stadium, 13-7 in neutral-site games, and 10-14 in true road games this season.
In MSU's 26 games away from Secchia Stadium to start the season, the Spartans were the true or designated visiting team in 20 of those contests.
MSU ranks in the top third of the Big Ten in most offensive categories - first in triples (20), second in home runs (62), doubles (84), RBI (296), slugging percentage (.534) and hit by pitch (51), and third in batting average (.315), on-base pct. (.412), runs (318), and walks (182), while landing fourth in hits (447), and sac flies (15). Last week, MSU ranked among the national top 20 in seven different categories: Triples per game (fourth, 0.41), Home runs per game (1.18, fourth), slugging percentage (.538, fifth), scoring (6.00 runs per game, 17th), 18th) and doubles per game (1.55, 12th).
On the season, Michigan State has accumulated 166 extra-base hits (84 doubles, 20 triples, 62 home runs) , good for 37% of its 447 base knocks. Only Minnesota (173) has more extra-base hits among Big Ten teams.
Spartan batters have struck out 172 times in a combined 1419 at-bats, the second-fewest of schools in the Big Ten (Minnesota has 153 to lead the way.)
MSU's offense is looking at a third consecutive year of top-10 all-time numbers. This Spartan team has already established new school records in home runs (62), runs (318), RBI (296), and total bases (757), while MSU's batting average (.315), slugging percentage (.533) and on-base percentage (.408) would all rank first if the season ended today.
MSU's 84 doubles and 20 triples both rank third in the Spartan single-season record book, while MSU's walks (182), and sac flies (15) are the second-highest totals in school history.
The MSU pitching staff is first in the Big Ten in saves (8), sixth in victories (31), and ranks third with 275 strikeouts on the season. MSU is ninth in ERA (4.16).
Both junior Lea Foerster and sophomore Kaitlyn Eveland were named to the All-Big Ten teams - Foerster was a First Team selection, and Eveland was voted a Second Team pick. The duo also earned Big Ten All-Tournament team honors.
Both Foerster and Eveland are making a run at joining an exclusive club of .400 hitters. Patty Raduenz (.422 in 1996, .414 in 1995) did it twice, while Lindsey Hansen (.404, 2011) Kylene Hopkins (.404, 2013), and Keri Lemasters (.400, 1996) are the four to have accomplished the feat. Entering the weekend, Eveland is hitting .404, and Foerster .402.
Lea Foerster has established new single-season MSU records in doubles (24), runs scored (67), and extra-base hits (40). Her 14 homers ranks second, 46 RBI is 10th, and 66 base hits is ninth.
Foerster's batting average is .402, which is sixth among Big Ten players. She leads the league in doubles (24), runs (67), total bases (136) and hit by pitch (19), is second in slugging (.829), third in OBP (.529), fourth in homers (14), fifth in hits (66), and sixth in RBI (46).
Foerster led all players at the Big Ten Tournament in base hits (6), runs scored (4) and doubles (3), , and among players competing in at least two games, was second with a .600 batting average (6-for-10). She was second in total bases (9) behind Minnesota's Sydney Dwyer, who hit three home runs.
Entering last week, Foerster ranked in the NCAA Top 20 in doubles (21, first), runs per game (1.24, third), slugging pct (.833, 16th), and total bases (125, 14th). She is 26th in on-base percentage (.518), and 37th in homers per game (0.29).
On the career front, Foerster is MSU's all-time run-scoring leader (155), while posting 51 career doubles, (second), 84 extra base hits (second) 10 triples (tied for 10th), 23 homers (sixth) and her 189 career base knocks ranks 11th in the Spartan annals.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Eveland has perhaps been MSU's most consistently improving player. Over the last 10 games, she is hitting .500 with five doubles, three homers, and 14 RBI, drawing nine walks.
Eveland led all players at the Big Ten Tournament with six RBI, and was tied for third with four hits. She was fourth in total bases.
Eveland leads the team and ranks sixth in the Big Ten with a .404 average, ranks sixth in slugging (.723) and sixth in on-base percentage (.503). She is fourth with 53 RBI, a total which ranks tied for second all-time in a season at MSU. She is also among B1G leaders in homers (9, T-11), doubles (14, ninth), and walks (12th, 28).
Eveland's 25 extra base hits is second among the Spartans and tied for eighth on MSU's single-season list. Her .404 average would fall in MSU's all-time single-season top five.
Freshman Kelcey Carrasco brings a 14-game reached base safely streak into the Big Ten Tournament, the second-longest streak for any Spartan this season. She is hitting .329 on the season and is tied for 11 in the Big Ten with nine home runs. She is just the second freshman in school history to belt nine homers, and looks to become the first to have double-digit round-trippers.
All eight of Lexi White home runs this season have come against Big Ten teams - that ranks third among Big Ten players in Conference games only. She's hitting .250 on the season with 13 RBI.
McKenzie Long is hitting .304 in her junior season, with 20 RBI, 14 sac hits (second in the Big Ten), three triples (fourth, B1G) and three doubles. Her 40 runs scored is 10th in a single season at MSU
Long delivered a 3-for-8 performance in the Big Ten Tournament, with a double and three runs scored, walking four times. After missing several games in each her first two seasons, Long is one of five players to appear in all 53 games this season.
Ebonee Echols boasts a .316 batting average, starting all 53 games this season. She leads her team with 12 multiple-RBI games, and also had the team's longest hitting streak of the season (11 games). She has nine doubles and 44 RBI, which ranks 10th in a single season in the MSU annals.
Echols leads the B1G and Division I softball with 11 triples this season. That total is one behind the single-season school record of 12, held since 1980 by Izzy Forester. Her 20 career triples is the most in school history.
Echols ranks third nationally among active players in career triples, but is the only sophomore among the top 10 active career players in triples. Both players ahead of her - Taylor Brown (27) from Abilene Christian and Lindsay Crowdus of Memphis (22) - are seniors. The all-time NCAA record for career triples is 51, and the second-place holder has 38.
Echols is tied for sixth all-time in the Big Ten in career triples, and has the most by any player in the Big Ten since 1999.
Sarah Gutknecht, the team's lone senior, is also moving up the Spartan career records. Her 29 career home runs is third in the Spartan annals. She ranks 17th on MSU's all-time hit list with 176 career base hits, is sixth in extra-base hits (65), tied for seventh in career doubles (36) and career walks (67), and is fourth in MSU history with 120 career RBI.
Gutknecht is hitting .277 on the year, with 11 doubles, 10 home runs, and 31 RBI. Her 10 homers ranks in a tie for seventh place in MSU's single-season record book. Gutknecht is also tied for the most sac flies (4) in the Big Ten.
Gutknecht set a new career high in the Big Ten Tournament against Michigan when she was walked three times by Wolverine pitcher Megan Betsa. Three walks in a game is the second-highest total in a single game in MSU history - a mark that Kaitlyn Eveland also tied a day earlier vs. Indiana.
Lindsey Besson tied a school record vs. Toledo (April 19) when she was hit three times in the batter's box, a record originally set by Sandy Lewis on March 2, 2002 by North Carolina. She was hit three times by three different Toledo pitchers. She ranks fifth in the Big Ten in hit by pitch (13), second on the team behind Lea Foerster (19).
Besson has started 29 games behind the plate, and with just two errors in 28 games, owns a .989 fielding percentage, second on the team behind center fielder Lea Foerster (1.000). In her fourth season in the program, Besson has a great handle on the Spartan pitching staff.
Melanie Baccay had three hits in the Big Ten Tournament , scoring three runs (one behind team leader Lea Foerster).
Baccay has started 47 of 49 games at second base, and is hitting .285 on the year with two homers and four doubles. She and classmate Kelcey Carrasco both hit home runs in their first college games on Feb. 10 vs. North Florida, and Baccay added a second vs. No. 16 Georgia (3/4).
Over the course of the Big Ten schedule, Kristina Zalewski was generally the game one starter, Bridgette Rainey in game two, and a staff outing in game three, with freshman Jordan Watson available for a relief stint in any of the three games. Zalewski went the distance in five of her 15 Big Ten starts, and Rainey had two complete games in seven starts. Watson appeared in 15 of MSU's 23 Big Ten contests.
Kristina Zalewski owns a 3.35 ERA on the season, with a 6-7 overall record, 93 strikeouts in 104.1 innings, and six complete games. She is tied for eighth in the Big Ten in saves (2), and her 10 career saves is tied with Jessica Beech for third place in the MSU record book.
Zalewski threw nine innings over the weekend at the Big Ten Tournament, starting all three games. She had eight strikeouts and allowed 13 hits, and her only runs given up against Ohio State in a three-inning outing was a first-inning two-run homer to Lilli Piper.
Zalewski missed much of the pre-Big Ten schedule completing her rehab from off-season surgery, and threw 72 of her 95 innings in Conference play. Despite missing more than half of the overall Spartan schedule, she ranks 10th in the Big Ten in strikeouts (93), is 12th in strikeouts looking (27), and is tied for eighth in saves (2).
With 450 career strikeouts, Zalewski is now second all-time at MSU and ranks 45th among active pitchers in Division I softball, one of 14 juniors on that list. She is one of five pitchers at MSU to have reached the 400-strikeout mark - Jessica Beech is the all-time leader with 659.
Bridgette Rainey has logged the most innings of anyone on the staff, compiling a total of 130.2, good for 13th in the Big Ten. She owns an ERA of 3.96 with five complete games, ranks sixth in the B1G in wins (15), fourth in strikeouts (134), 12th in starts (21) and ninth in total appearances (35). Her 15 victories and 134 strikeouts are both career highs.
Rainey had the second-most strikeouts of any pitcher in the Big Ten Tournament - she had 144, second to Minnesota ace Sara Groenewegen. In the tournament, Rainey had a 4.08 ERA and earned two wins, surrendering just two extra-base hits in 12 innings.
Jordan Watson is tied for second in the Big Ten in saves (4), which is tied for third in a single season in MSU history. She is also the Big Ten leader in relief appearances (25) and is 15th in the B1G with 32 total appearances.
In 15 Big Ten appearances, Watson owns a 3.23 ERA and three saves, tossing 30 innings and giving up 14 earned runs.
Redshirt junior Valerie Kaff had her senior day on April 21 vs. Ohio State, as injuries will not allow her to continue her pitching career. Kaff missed the 2016 season with a pair of surgeries, and has decided to retire from pitching. The consummate teammate, Kaff has been used as a pinch runner during the Big Ten season, and scored the winning run on April 22 vs. Ohio State. She appeared as a pinch runner in all three games at the Big Ten Tournament.