A six-run third inning for Connecticut posed too much of an obstacle to overcome, as Michigan State (10-9) dropped the back half of a doubleheader to the Huskies, 8-3. MSU earned a 9-0 victory in the first game of the day to get a split.
MSU used four pitchers in the contest, with the loss going to freshman Celeste Wood (1-1), who started the game and went 2.2 innings, surrendering five hits and six runs. UConn pitcher Chelsea Eckert earned her first win of the season. The Huskies had seven hits, but saw the benefit of five walks and two batters hit by pitches.
Freshman Ebonee Echols went 2-for-2 with a triple, as MSU had six hits in the game and stranded six runners.Lea Foerster extended her team-best hitting streak to six games, smacking a third-inning two-run home run, her second of the season.
Michigan State will train in South Carolina this week during its spring break, and will take part in the Holy City Showdown next weekend at the College of Charleston.
“One of our biggest obstacles that we have to overcome is our lack of consistency – at-bat to at-bat, batter-to-batter, inning-to-inning, and game-to-game. Part of our inability to do that is because we’re still looking for all the right players to step up and earn a role in a number of spots. We had some great offensive performances today, but we need to see it in all three phases of the game on a more consistent basis. We’re going to have an advantage this week in practicing outdoors every day, no classes or campus distractions, and will really have a chance to work on a lot of the things we’re talking about. We want to finish spring break strong with five games next weekend.”
– Head Coach Jacquie Joseph
Lea Foerster smacked a two-run home run in the third inning, her second of the season. Ebonee Echols went 2-for-2, with a triple and a single. Sarah Gutknecht, Celeste Wood, and Shanin Thomas all went 1-for-3. Kristina Zalewski entered in relief in the fourth and threw two innings, and Dani Goranson tossed the final two frames, facing just six batters. Celeste Wood started and went 2.2 innings, allowing five hits and six earned runs. Rainey went a third of an inning, issuing three walks and recording one strikeout, before Zalewski entered the game.
STATS AND STORYLINES
After two scoreless innings (and nine combined over two games), the Huskies broke through for a run in the top of the third. Ryne Nakama walked, and a single by Alyssa Gardea put runners on the corners. Taylor Townsend came up with an infield single to plate Nakama for the 1-0 lead. After Wood got a popout to short, Lexi Gifford walked to load the bases, and Wood hit Alyson Ambler to bring a second UConn run across the plate. Catcher Dominique Pinto followed with a double to left, scoring thre runs for a commanding 5-0 lead. That spelled the end of Wood’s time in the circle, as she was replaced by Rainey. Rainey walked the next three batters to bring home a sixth run, but got out of the inning without further damage.
MSU got on the board in the bottom of the third. Kassidy Kujawa struck out but reached base on a wild pitch with one out. Ebonee Echols followed with a triple to right center to plate the first run, and then Lea Foerstersmacked her second home run of the weekend to center field, a two-run shot that cut the UConn lead in half, 6-3.
Zalewski came on to relieve Rainey with one on and none out in the top of the fourth. She got a groundout, but then a single by Gifford put runners at the corners. Gifford stole second, and a throwing error allowed two runs to score for an 8-3 lead for the Huskies.
Zalewski struck out two and allowed just one hit in her two innings. She threw in all four games on the weekend, getting in two complete games (1-1) and two relief appearances for a total of 17.1 innings.
Dani Goranson entered for Zalewski in the top of the fifth, and tossed two shutout innings, facing the minimum six batters.
Ebonee Echols ripped a triple in the third inning, her second of the day and her team-best third of the season.