EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ The Michigan State softball team (21-20, 3-9 Big Ten) was unable to split its weekend series with Indiana (30-15, 10-2 Big Ten) on Sunday, April 24, as it fell to the Hoosiers, 4-2. Junior Brett Williams led all batters at the plate against All-American pitcher Morgan Melloh, going 3-for-3 on the day with a solo homer in the second inning.
â€œI thought we played well,â€ said MSU head coach Jacquie Joseph. â€œWe gave it a great effort, but unfortunately their pitcher was better than our hitters. I was encouraged by our defense in both games this weekend.â€
With junior Lauren Kramer making her first conference start of the season, the Spartans remained strong defensively throughout the game behind the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native by not committing a single error.
Indiana, however, took advantage of balls left high in the zone from Kramer in the top of the second inning with two homers. Jenna Abraham recorded the first of the inning for the Hoosiers when she put the ball over the right center fence to give IU an early 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Cassie Gogreve put Indiana ahead by two runs with a solo shot down the left field line.
The Green and White responded in the bottom half of the inning after falling behind 2-0 in the top half of the frame. With one out, Williams blasted her 13th home run of the season when she put the ball over the fence in straight away centerfield. The Spartansâ€™ next two batters wound up going down consecutively, but not before MSU pulled back within one at 2-1.
Melloh helped her own cause at the plate with a double to right field in the top of the third with the bases loaded. Melloh would up bringing in both Sara Olson and Ashley Warrum from second and third, respectively. Mellohâ€™s two runs gave IU a 4-1 lead and were all she needed for insurance against the Green and White, as her defense did not commit an error.
One of the closest plays of the day occurred in the bottom of the fourth inning. Following a lead-off walk from senior Lindsey Hansen, Williams ripped the ball into the gap between left and center and rolled to the outfield fence. With Hansen boasting speed for the Spartans, the Valparaiso, Fla., native rounded third and made her way towards home plate. As Hansen made her way down the line, he Hoosier catcher began creeping towards the backstop and into the base path of the Spartan senior. Hansen was then forced to slide wide and miss the plate, allowing Indiana to tag her out after receiving the ball from left.
The Spartans tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth off a single by junior Ali Grant. Grant poked the ball over the head of the shortstop, allowing sophomore Kylene Hopkins to score from third and pull within two at 4-2.
Williams ended the weekend 4-for-7 at the plate against her former high school teammate. Together, Williams and Melloh led their Hamilton Southeastern team to an Indiana 4A State Title in 2007 with an overall record of 31-0. Indiana left fielder Abraham was a freshman on the championship team with Williams and Melloh.
With the win, Melloh improves to 25-14 overall on the season, as she threw a complete game for the Hoosiers. In 7.0 innings of work, Melloh allowed two earned runs on six hits, while striking out 11 batters faced.
Kramer earned only her fourth loss of the season, as she drops to 8-4 on the year with the defeat. In 5.0 innings of action, Kramer allowed four earned runs on five hits, while striking out one batter.
Freshman Cassee Layne threw the final 2.0 innings against the Hoosiers and failed to give up a run.
The Spartans are back in action on Tuesday, April 26 when they host Central Michigan at Secchia Stadium for their first non-conference action in 12 games. Action against the Chippewas is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.