MSU SOFTBALL: Spartans Rally for 7-4 Win Over Illinois State

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


Michigan State used a four-run fifth inning and a pair of insurance runs in the sixth to cap the Littlewood Classic at Arizona State with a 7-4 victory over Illinois State on Sunday morning. Lea Foerster went 4-for-4 and Shanin Thomas had a 3-for-3 effort at the plate.

Foerster's 4-for-4 effort was the second time she had four hits in a game - she also had four in a non-conference game against Eastern Michigan. The school record is five, held by both Nikki Nicosia and Gayle Barrons. Thomas tied her career best with her three base knocks, tying her performance against Providence last February.

Kristina Zalewski (3-2) got the win in the circle, entering in the third to toss 4.2 innings, striking out six and scattering four hits. Dani Goranson started her third game of the weekend, and went 2.1 innings with three strikeouts and allowing just two runs.

MSU went 2-3 at the Littlewood Classic, and stands at 6-4 through two weeks of play. MSU downed Memphis in five innings on Saturday (9-1) before today's win over the Redbirds. In addition to coming out on the short end of a pair of slugfests with Northern Iowa, MSU also fell to No. 17 Arizona State, 5-2. MSU hit .362 as a team on the weekend, smacking five doubles, three home runs. Foerster led the way by hitting .579, going 11-for-19 with four RBI and a .632 slugging percentage. Thomas went 4-for-7 with five walks and a double in four games.

MSU heads to Florida for it's third weekend of tournament action, taking part in the Florida Atlantic Invitational Feb. 26-28.

I'm pleased that we ended the game on a high note, and that we didn't hang our heads when we got down. Things can happen fast in this game and a game can turn around really quickly if you mentally stay in it. I think we continue to be really optimistic about a lot of the things that we're seeing, and we're certainly making progress. It's exciting to build on our experience every week, every game, and every practice.
- Head Coach Jacquie Joseph


Lea Foerster went 4-for-4, scoring two runs and adding an RBI. She tied her career best and was just one shy of the school record of five hits. Shanin Thomas went 3-for-3 with a pair of runs scored. Ebonee Echols went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Sarah Gutknecht extended her hitting streak to seven straight games with a 1-for-3 effort, while both Foerster and Lindsey Besson have active six-game streaks. Dani Goranson started her third game in three days, striking out three in 2.1 innings of work. Kristina Zalewski entered in the third inning, and struck out six. Each walked just one batter.


A solo home run in the top of the first gave the Redbirds an early lead, but MSU got the run back on three singles and an ISU error. Lea Foerster and McKenzie Long led off the game with back-to-back hits, and a fielder's choice put runners at the corners. Catcher Jordan de los Reyes's throw to try to get Wood on a stolen base attept ended up in center field, and Foerster tied the game when she scored from third. The Redbirds manufactured a run on a bunt single, sacrifice, and RBI single by Regan Romshek in the top of the third, and Zalewski replaced starter Dani Goranson with one on and one out. Zalewski allowed a single to her first batter de los Reyes, and after a strikeout, she walked Allison Spence to load the bases. She worked out of the bases-loaded jam by getting Payton Billups to go down swinging. An error and two wild pitches allowed Illinois State to push its lead to 4-1 in the top of the fifth. de los Reyes reached base on the error to lead off the inning, and Stanguard followed with a fielder's choice. A pair of wild pitches moved her over to third, and she scored on a sac fly to center. The Spartans rallied in the bottom of the fifth, as singles by Shanin Thomas and Lea Foerster were wrapped around an error that allowed Jordan Davis to reach base, putting three runners on without an out. Pitcher Sarah Finck walked Destinee Luna and Celeste Wood to bring home two Spartan runs of the inning, bringing the Spartans within a run, 4-3, and bringing Sarah Gutknecht to the plate. Shannon Felde replaced Finck in the circle, and gave up a sac fly to Gutknecht followed by a double to Lindsey Besson, and MSU pulled ahead 5-4, its first lead of the game. Working with a lead for the first time in the game, Zalewski got a pair of strikeouts and a comebacker to the circle to quickly end the top of the sixth inning. She also worked a quick seventh to secure the victory. MSU added insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Ebonee Echols and Thomas led off with singles, andJordan Davis moved them into scoring position. Lea Foerster came up with her fourth hit of the day, plating Echols on a single and advancing to second. With two runners in scoring position and just one out, the Redbirds brought in freshman Ali Domkuski to pitch to Luna. She retired Luna on an infield ground ball, but Thomas came home for an 7-4 MSU lead. Domkuski retired Wood to end the Spartan rally.