Memphis Outlasts Spartans 11-9

MICHIGAN STATE SOFTBALL (PHOTO:  MSU SID)
MICHIGAN STATE SOFTBALL (PHOTO: MSU SID)

Michigan State and Memphis traded big innings for the second straight game, with the Tigers posting a five-run fifth and holding off a late MSU rally to earn an 11-9 win in the finale of the Felsburg Invitational.

Charla Echols was the only Spartan to deliver two hits, going 2-for-3 with a double. Ebonee Echols, Abby Joseph, andJoanna Bartz all had two RBI on the day, with Joseph and Bartz delivering two-run singles as pinch hitters.

MSU used all four of its pitchers, with Leah Shipp (1.1 innings, four hits, four runs) taking the loss during a five-run bottom of the fifth inning for Memphis.

Samantha Ibision went 4-for-5 for Memphis (2-3), while Baylee Smith was 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI.

The Spartans return to action next Friday in Atlanta for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The Spartans will take on Boston College and host Georgia Tech.

QUOTABLE 
"I'm proud of the way we fought this weekend. The first set of games is a time of trying a lot of different combinations and assessing where your players are individually and as a team. We have a lot of work to do as our goal is to to get bette every day, but that's every team in the country right now, too. I thought that we saw a lot of good things from both our veterans and our returning players, and we'll get back to work on Tuesday to make ourselves better before we take on Boston College and Georgia Tech ."

TOP PERFORMERS 
Charla Echols went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI, collecting her fourth double of the weekend.
Joanna BartzandAbby Joseph each delivered pinch-hit two-RBI singles.
Ebonee Echols was 1-for-3 with a pair of RBI.

STATS AND STORYLINES 
• MSU put three on the board in the top of the first inning, the Tigers committed a pair of errors around a Charla Echols double, a sacrifice fly by Ebonee Echols, and a single by Lexi White.
• A pair of well-placed infield hits and a single to center manufactured a Memphis run in the bottom of the first, and then in the second, used another pair of well-placed infield hits to get two into scoring position with one out. A ground ball to short allowed Laney Joyner fire the ball to Charla Echols to gun down Baylee Smith trying to come home from third for the second out of the inning, but Samantha Ibision reached on a ground ball deep at second to load the bases. A tough ground ball to first allowed the second Tiger run to score, and a single to left center brought home two more runs for a 4-3 Memphis advantage.

• In the third, the Spartans loaded the bases on a single by MacKenzie Meech, a HBP (Lexi White) and walk to Kelly Zackrison. Joanna Bartz came off the bench to deliver a single to left that scored two runs and re-established a lead for MSU. Not to be outdone, pinch hitter Abby Joseph followed with another two-run single, pushing MSU's advantage to 7-4.

• Memphis got two runs back in the home half of the third. A one-out double by Baylee Smith, a walk, an MSU error set up back-to-back singles by Delaney Smith and Ibison brought two runs across the plate and pulled the Tigers back within a run, 7-6.

• Memphis was assertive and kept its foot on the gas to retake the lead in the bottom of the fifth. A two-out error by the Spartans led to a pair of unearned runs, as Ashley Threatt and Alyssa Dean followed with RBI hits to take an 8-7 lead, and another error – MSU's second of the inning – brought home two more for a 10-7 advantage. MSU made a pitching change to bring in McKenna Gregory for her first appearance of the season. A throwing miscue on a stolen base attempt brought Baylee Smith home to complete the five-run inning.

• MSU looked to counter the big inning by Memphis in the top of the sixth. Melanie Baccay led off with a single, and around a pair of outs pitcher Bayleigh Wisher walkedCharla EcholsandKaitlyn Eveland to load the bases. Memphis brought in sophomore Mariah Nichols to pitch to Meech. She hit the Spartan first baseman to walk in a run, and then had a hard time with a sharp comebacker from Ebonee Echols to plate a second run to trim the deficit to 11-9.

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