The Spartans (22-25, 4-13 B1G) had five hits on the day, matching their season-best three home runs – the Spartans also hit three in games vs. Western Illinois (March 20) and at Maryland (April 8). However, all four Spartan runs came courtesy of the longball, as MSU continued to struggle to find timely hitting.
Celeste Wood took the loss in the circle (1-2), the first pitching action for the freshman since a 2.2 inning outing against Connecticut on March 6. She surrendered a three-run home run to Andrea Filler – one of the senior’s two round-trippers of the day – before making way for Dani Goranson, who tossed 2.1 innings of relief – she allowed three runs and struck out two before making way for Zalewski, who handled the final 3.2 innings of work, giving up six hits and four runs, striking out five.
MSU has dropped five straight, it’s longest skid of the season.
The Spartans host Eastern Michigan on Wednesday at Secchia Stadium in a midweek tilt, then brings Rutgers to East Lansing for the final home Big Ten series of the season.
Lea Foerster hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning, and finished 1-for-3 with two RBI.. . Celeste Wood (sixth of the season) and Lindsey Besson (third) added solo home runs. Kristina Zalewski added five strikeouts in 3.2 innings of relief work, scattering six hits in her third appearance of the weekend. Shanin Thomas and Sarah Gutknecht each singled to round out MSU’s offense.
“We have to give credit where it’s due. We knew coming into the series that Northwestern was far better than their record and that their lineup just hits so well- and they showed that. Their big players came up big today, and probably with some extra emotion with it being their senior day and a big class that has done a lot for them over the last four years. We’ll have an opportunity to get ourselves right with a midweek non-conference game and we have a big series with Rutgers coming up next weekend. Its our final four games at home, and it’s critical that we respond. ”
— Head coach Jacquie Joseph
STATS AND STORYLINES
Celeste Wood hit a full-count pitch off the wall of Welsh-Ryan Arena in left field to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead just one batter into the game. McKenzie Long reached on an error, and she was moved to second on a sac bunt by Sarah Gutknecht. The Spartans put two more ground balls in play to end the inning. A leadoff walk, an error, and a pair of stolen bases put two runners in scoring position with no outs for the Wildcats in the bottom of the first. Senior Andrea Filler sent a 1-1 pitch over the wall in center field for a 3-1 lead. Amy Letourneau followed with a single up the middle, forcing the Spartans into a pitching change. Dani Goranson came in with one on and none out – and she made quick work to retire the next three batters. Filler hit a second home run on the day, a one-out solo shot in the bottom of the third, to extend NU’s lead to 4-1. It was the first hit surrendered by Goranson. A walk and a fielder’s choice were followed by a ground-rule double by Brooke Marquez, plating a run to push it to 5-1. Kristina Zalewski entered at that point for Goranson, making her third appearance of the weekend. Pinch hitter Brianna LeBeau had an RBI groundout for the second out of the inning, and Zalewski got out of the inning on a comebacker to the circle. Kassidy Kujawa drew a one-out walk in the top of the fourth, and Lea Foerster brought her home with her fifth home run of the year to make it a 6-3 ballgame. In the bottom of the fourth, the home team got back the two runs it surrendered in the top of the frame. A single through the left side by Krista Williams and an infield single by Sabrina Rabin left runners at the corners, and a single by Morgan Nelson brought home two more runs for the Wildcats, making it 8-3. The Wildcats scored again in the bottom of the sixth, as Morgan Nelson led it off with a bunt single, then stole second. Filler singled to left and advanced to second on the throw which froze Nelson at third, and after a strikeout of Letourneau, strub stepped in and brought Nelson home on a ground ball to third. Zalewski got Marquez to go down swinging for the second strikeout of the inning, but the third strike was a wild pitch that allowed her to reach first and bring home Filler for the second run of the frame and a 10-3 advantage. In the top of the seventh, Filler robbed Shanin Thomas of a single with a diving stop at short for the second out of the inning. Down to a final strike of the ballgame on a 2-2 count, Lindsey Besson turned on one and sent it out of the ballpark, her third home run of the season, to make it a 10-4 score. Lexi White hit for Reiser and quickly jumped out to a 3-0 count, but Letourneau came back with back-to-back strikes, and got White swinging to end the game. Zalewski’s five strikeouts pushed her season total to 178, good for fifth in a single-season in the MSU record book. Sitting above her in fourth place is Stacey Smith (189, 1997). There are seven games remaining in the regular season, and Zalewski’s 38 appearances puts her on pace to challenge her career-best 43 from 2015, which is fourth all-time in a single season. She is also 5.2 innings shy of her total of 172.2 she threw last season as well. Besson hit her third homer of the season after hitting just one in her freshman year (2014). Wood’s home run puts her back in the team lead with six, and Foerster’s two-run shot was her fifth of the season.