Spartan Softball Suffers 9-4 Setback To No. 14 Northwestern

Hondo S. Carpenter

Spartan Softball Suffers 9-4 Setback To No. 14 Northwestern
Meghan Darhower tallied her first home run of the season in defeat.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Despite a first-inning home run by Meghan Darhower, the Spartan softball team suffered a 9-4 setback against No. 14 Northwestern in Big Ten Conference play on Saturday. State falls to 33-21, 8-8 Big Ten, while the Wildcats improve to 35-10, with a 13-2 record against conference opponents. Â
Darhower went 1-for-2, adding two runs, while Dayna Feenstra went 2-for-3 with one run and two RBI. Rachel Turney allowed three hits and four earned runs, falling to 17-10 on the season.
Michigan State plated the first run of the day when Darhower hit a two-out home run in the top half of the first inning for an early 1-0 Spartan advantage.Â
Northwestern answered in the bottom half of the first, scoring two runs on back-to-back RBI-singles from Jamie Dotson and Kristen Amegin for a 2-1 Wildcat lead.Â
The teams continued to match runs early, as Feenstra led-off the second inning with a double over the NU center fielder, and was replaced on the bases by pinch runner Abby Lincoln. Traci Nicosia hit State’s second consecutive double, scoring Lincoln for a 2-2 tie.Â
The Spartans regained the lead in the top of the third when Darhower drew a walk off of NU starting pitcher Courtnay Foster, and stole second base. Feenstra followed with her team-leading eighth home run of the season for a 4-2 Green and White advantage.
MSU hurler Lesley Noel held the Wildcats scoreless through the second and third innings before Darcy Sengewald doubled in the bottom of the fourth and scored on a ground rule double off the bat of Katie Logan. Dotson laced a ball off the shoulder of the Spartan shortstop, scoring Garland Cooper for a 4-4 deadlock.Â
MSU threatened in the top of the fifth when Nicole Mercado reached on an infield single and took third on an error by the Wildcat left fielder, placing runners on the corners for Feenstra at the plate. Relief pitcher Eileen Canney worked out of the jam however, striking out Feenstra for the final out of the inning.Â
Northwestern plated four runs in the bottom of the fifth when Erin Dyer tripled to right field and scored on an RBI-groundout by Sengewald. Spartan relief pitcher Rachel Turney intentionally walked Wildcat slugger Garland Cooper to load the bases for Tammy Williams at the plate.Â
Megan Hair relieved Turney in the circle before NU added three runs on consecutive singles from Williams and Dotson for an 8-4 lead in the fifth.  A miscue in the Spartan infield allowed Wildcat center fielder Sheila McCorkle to cross the plate in the home half of the sixth for the deciding 9-4 advantage.Â
NU out-hit the Spartans, 11-6, while MSU committed just one error compared to two errors by Northwestern in the field. Canney recorded her second victory of the series from the circle for the Wildcats.Â
The Spartans continue Big Ten play against Illinois, Sunday at Old College Field. The conference doubleheader is scheduled to begin at noon.Â
Northwestern Series Notes
Meghan Darhower became the eighth Spartan to hit a homerun this season, hitting her first of the year over the left-field wall.
Darhower also collected her 18th RBI of the year, tying her for third on the team in that category.
Dayna Feenstra had two extra-base hits on the afternoon, tallying her team-leading 15th double, eighth home run and 40th RBI.
State moves to an even 8-8 in Big Ten competition, and suffers just its fourth loss in 25 games when scoring between four and nine runs.
The Spartans are now 9-2 when scoring in the first inning, and 23-4 when scoring the first run of the game.

Courtesy of MSU SID.