MSU SOFTBALL: Panthers Pull Away Late in Win over Spartans

MSU Softball 2016.  Photo courtesy of MSU SID
MSU Softball 2016. Photo courtesy of MSU SID


For the second day in a row, Michigan State and Northern Iowa traded offensive blows, and the Panthers scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings to blow open the game and post a 10-4 win over the Spartans. MSU is now 5-4 on the year, and UNI improves to 7-2. Lea Foerster andSarah Gutknecht each had a pair of hits in the game.

UNI stranded 11 runners in the game and committed four errors, while MSU left nine on base and compiled nine hits. Chelsea Ross threw a complete game for the Panthers, scattering MSU's nine hits, walking two and striking out four. Three MSU pitchers combined to allow 10 walks and nine hits, while striking out 11.Bridgette Rainey took the loss after two innings of relief work after starter Dani Goranson.

Friday evening, the teams combined for 23 hits and 22 runs in a 13-9 UNI victory.

MSU faces Illinois State on Sunday at 11 am in the finale of the Littlewood Classic at Arizona State.

The second game today was just a combination of too many missed opportunities offensively and giving Northern Iowa too many chances by putting them on base with walks and hit batters. It's a recipe to take yourself right out of the game. It was back-and-forth early, but we took ourselves out of it in the late innings with too many walks and not capitalizing when we had runners on base. We need to get our bodies and minds some rest so that we can come back tomorrow and finish this tournament strong."

- Head Coach Jacquie Joseph


Lea Foerster and Sarah Gutknecht each went 2-for-4 , and Foerster had an RBI and a stolen base. Celeste Wood went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Dani Goranson started after a complete game on Friday night, went two innings and allowed four hits and four runs, walking three and striking out two. Bridgette Rainey came in for her in the bottom of the third inning, and scattered three hits, walking three and striking out six in two innings of work and was charged with three runs. Zalewski went the final two innings, walking three and striking out three, allowing three runs.STATS AND STORYLINES

MSU fired right out of the gate, manufacturing a run in the top of the first. McKenzie Long singled, stole second, and advanced to third on a throwing error. She scored on an infield ground ball by Celeste Wood. A leadoff walk, and three base hits allowed the Panthers to counter MSU's early run with three of their own in the bottom of the first. Lea Foerster came up with a single and brought home two runs with the bases loaded and two out in the second inning to knot the game 3-3. Lindsey Besson and Kaitlyn Eveland both singled to lead off the inning, and one out later Shanin Thomas drew a walk, her fourth of the day between two games to load the bases. UNI pitcher Chelsea Ross got Destinee Luna swinging, setting up Foerster's single right up the middle to tie the game. Dani Goranson worked out of a two-on, two-out jam in the bottom of the second, limiting the damage after UNI pulled ahead 4-3 on a leadoff walk and stolen base by Samantha Olson, and RBI single by Micalla Rettinger. MSU threatened in the top of the third with back-to-back singles to lead off the inning from Wood and Sarah Gutknecht, but a fly ball and two fielder's choices erased the Spartan threat. Rainey entered the game in the bottom half of the inning, walking two but striking out the side. In the bottom of the fourth, the Panthers pushed their lead back to two. Rettinger walked, and after Rainey got a strikeout of Chelsea Ross, Rettinger stole second and took third on a Wnek single. Kristin Lock stepped in and delivered a single to bring Rettinger home for a 5-3 lead. Rainey got both Kennedy Bailey and Courtney Krodinger swinging to end the inning. A leadoff single by the catcher Anna Varriano and walk by Samantha Olson in the bottom of the fifth spelled the end of Rainey's outing. Zalewski entered the game with runners at first and second and none out, and after getting a comebacker for the first out of the inning, Ross singled up the middle to plate both runs to push the UNI lead to 7-3. MSU attacked the plate with a sense of urgency in the top of the sixth. Thomas led off with a single and was replaced on the basepaths by classmate Jacquie Reiser. After Luna struck out, Foerster put the ball in play, but the UNI shortstop Wnek committed an error - the Panthers' fourth error of the game - putting Foerster on second and sending Reiser around to score. Long walked to put a pair of runners on base for Wood, who advanced the runners for Gutknecht with two outs. Ross got Gutknecht swinging to strand two and end the Spartan threat. The Panthers put it out of reach in the bottom of the sixth, as Zalewski issued three consecutive walks to lead off the inning. A single by Buchanan plated the first two runs. and a grounder by Rettinger brought the 10th run across the plate.