TEMPE, Ariz. â€“ The Michigan State softball team began its Littlewood Classic Tournament appearance with a victory, as it downed the University of Illinois-Chicago, 5-1, on Friday afternoon. Junior Kelly Smith tallied 10 strikeouts in the game, her second time this season, while sophomore Stephanie Sanders hit a grand slam.
â€œIt was a slow start but we ended up having a big fifth inning,â€ said head coach Jacquie Joseph. â€œWe had a great start pitching which brought us enough time to make adjustments at the plate. Sandersâ€™ grand slam gave us the momentum we needed to get the win.â€
The game was scoreless up until the bottom of the fifth inning when MSU broke open the game with five runs. Senior Jenny Ramsaier singled to be the first on base and advanced to second after freshman Destinee Luna singled to shortstop. Ramsaier later scored on a passed ball, giving the Spartans their first run, while Luna advanced to second base. Next up was senior Jayme Oâ€™Bryant, who hit the ball into left field, sending Luna to third. Oâ€™Bryant stole second on a pitch while sophomore Ellie Stoffer was up to bat. Stoffer proceeded to gain a walk, loading the bases as Sanders approached the plate. After one ball, Sanders hit a home run to send Stoffer, Oâ€™Bryant and Luna home, giving Michigan State a 5-0 lead over UIC.
At the top of the seventh Laura Swan hit a home run, giving UIC (0-7) its lone run of the game.
Smith pitched the complete game giving up only one run, two walks, and produced 10 strikeouts. Luna and Oâ€™Bryant finished the game with 2-for-4, each posting one run.