Rain and defeat poured over the Spartans at the hands of the visiting Nittany Lions as the Spartans lost their first game of the series, 9-3.
This was the Spartans’ first game on their home field at Secchia Stadium after their original home opener against Western Michigan had been cancelled due to weather.
Valerie Kaff was the starting pitcher for the Spartans. Kelly Smith replaced her in the third inning. Marlaina Laubach pitched all seven innings for the Nittany Lions allowing three runs, striking out six, and walking four.
“I thought their girl pitched it pretty darn well. I have to give them credit,” said MSU head coach Jacquie Joseph. “They pitched well, they played good defense, and had some key hits.”
The score remained tied at 0-0 until the top of the third inning. With two runners on base, Penn State’s Kasie Hatfield drove in two runs on an error by MSU in right field. Reina Furuya and and Lexi Knief scored.
Alyssa Sovereign and Knief scored in the top of the fifth and Shelby Miller scored in the sixth giving the Nittany Lions a 5-0 lead.
The Spartans started making a comeback in the bottom of the sixth inning. Destinee Luna batted in Shanin Thomas to get MSU on the board. Stephanie Sanders came in to pinch hit for Carly Nielsen and hit a line drive that allowed two runners to score. The Spartans only trailed the Nittany Lions by two at the end of the sixth inning.
The Spartans could never gain a lead over Penn State. In the top of the seventh the Nittany Lions earned four more runs.
Thomas was the top hitter for MSU with two hits and one run.
“Coach talks a lot about scoring in multiple innings, so I think we really need to focus on that,” said Thomas on the loss. “We have a lot of leaders and I think we’re going to learn to step up and turn it around. I have no doubts about our team.”
The series between Penn State and MSU continues on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
“I think we need to have a different mental approach and to have confidence.” Sanders, who was responsible for the Spartans’ two RBI, said.
“I’d like to see us be a little more mentally tough and rise above those external factors like the weather,” said coach Joseph. “I give Penn State credit. They took advantage of their opportunities and we didn’t. And I think that’s exactly the difference that sets teams apart.”
Katie Morang is the host of In the Circle for Impact Sports.
Photo: Michigan State University Softball