Softball Posts Second Consecutive Sweep

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - Nikki Nicosia tallied an RBI-triple in the fourth as Michigan State took a 1-0 win in the series finale vs. Purdue on Saturday. State improves to 25-11, with an undefeated 4-0 mark in conference play, while the Boilermakers fall to 22-20, 2-4 Big Ten. Spartan pitcher Lesley Noel allowed just two hits with six strikeouts, gaining her seventh win of the season.

Noel held Purdue hitless, while Boilermaker pitcher Melissa Burns allowed just one hit through three innings, in a sluggish offensive start for both teams.

Caitlin Mahoney singled in the fourth, and advanced to second on a Kara Weigle sacrifice bunt. Nikki Nicosia followed with an RBI-triple, her second of the year, scoring Mahoney for a 1-0 Spartan lead.

Noel allowed consecutive hits in the top of the fifth, when DaQueta Johnson singled to right field and Katie Mitchell moved the runner with a single to left. With two runners on base, Noel struck out Catherine Zaworski, and forced an infield groundout to the circle, securing the 1-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the sixth, Meghan Darhower reached on an error by the Purdue shortstop, and advanced to second on a Dayna Feenstra sacrifice bunt. Michigan State was unable to capitalize however, ending the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.

Two errors by the Spartan defense placed runners on second and third with two outs in the Boilermaker half of the sixth. Noel tallied the final out of the inning, recording her fifth strikeout of the contest, holding MSU's one-run advantage.

Finishing a strong pitching performance, Noel downed the side in order in the seventh, pitching her sixth complete game of the year in the 1-0 victory. State tallied just three hits for the day, one each from Mahoney, Gina Mondo and Nicosia. MSU posted two errors, against one by the Boilermaker defense, marking the seventh game State has claimed victory while committing at least two errors this season.

"I am so proud of our effort and performance today," head coach Jacquie Joseph commented. "Behind strong pitching from Lesley (Noel), we were able to play solid defense to win a one-run game."

Michigan State concludes its four-game conference homestand in a doubleheader vs. Indiana, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Spartan Notebook

* With her team-leading fourth shutout of the season, Leslie Noel lowered her team-best ERA to 0.93. Noel now sits second on the team in strikeouts (42) and wins (7).

* Nikki Nicosia broke the scoreless tie with an RBI triple down the left-field line. Nicosia leads the team in hits with 40, is tied for first with two triples, and is second in total bases with 48.

* The 1-0 win was MSU's eighth shutout of the season, and second in the past three games. The Spartans are now 6-5 in one-run games.

* Now 4-0 in conference play, State has earned 23 of its 25 wins by out-hitting its opponent, and is 19-3 when scoring first.