Errors lead to runs, split with Spartans

Lily Leung and Lily Leung

Errors lead to runs, split with Spartans

NU lost some of its fight in 2nd game of weekend, but finished 4th in league

By Lily Leung

The Daily Northwestern

It was no comedy of errors for Northwestern’s softball team at Michigan State this past weekend.

NU (31-17, 12-8 Big Ten) committed six mistakes en route to a split against the Spartans in a two-game series at Old College Field in East Lansing, Mich.

The last four errors allowed Michigan State (30-23, 8-12) to score four unearned runs in NU’s 4-1 loss in the second game.

“We misplayed balls,” Drohan said. “We didn’t pay attention to detail and we gave up runs. I would’ve liked to see more fight in them, more aggression.”

With the split, the Cats finished fourth in the Big Ten, the team’s best finish in coach Kate Drohan’s three years at NU.

NU led off the series by scoring three runs in the first inning in the first game.

Second baseman Carri Leto started the rally with a single to right field, and stole second base. Right fielder Erin Mobley followed with another single.

Designated player Garland Cooper was intentionally walked to load the bases before first baseman Jamie Dotson reached on a fielder’s choice, allowing Leto to score on a Spartans’ error.

With the bases still loaded, shortstop Eryn Manahan reached on another Spartans’ error, allowing Mobley to score. Cooper followed with another run off a wild pitch, giving the Cats a 3-0 lead.

“We got on top early in yesterday’s game, and we forced Michigan State to make errors,” Drohan said. “And we just finished the game.”

The Spartans managed to load bases at the bottom of the second. Michigan State’s Natalie Furrow, the leading batter in the Big Ten, hit a two-run double to right center, bringing the score to 3-2. But that was as close as the Spartans would get.

“Michigan State is a really good hitting team and knew how to put the ball into play and get a lot of strikeouts,” Leto said. “We needed to do a better job of finishing plays and take advantage of every out they give us.”

Although the Cats got on the board early in the second game, a short-lived 1-0 lead slipped away as they committed four errors.

Designated pitcher Megan Hinck scored the only NU run in the game. Freshman left fielder Jessica Miller, who made her second career appearance last weekend, hit a double to the left center field to score Hinck from first base.

Miller filled in for center fielder Sheila McCorkle, who had a cast on her arm from an injury suffered during Wednesday’s doubleheader at DePaul. She dove head-first into the centerfield fence while chasing down a fly ball.

McCorkle only pinch ran against Michigan State and will probably fill a similar role during next week’s Big Ten tournament.

“I was definitely nervous, but I wanted to come in and step up and take charge for the team,” Miller said. “I felt positive about how I came out. I made errors, but overall I did well.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Spartans capitalized on two Cats’ errors to take a 3-1 lead. Miller overthrew to home, allowing Michigan State’s Dayna Feenstra to score and tie the game. After Eileen Canney relieved Courtnay Foster, a mishandled ground ball allowed two more Spartans to cross the plate.

Michigan State took advantage of NU’s final throwing error in the seventh, which allowed Furrow to reach base. She later scored on a single by Feenstra, securing the 4-1 Michigan State victory.

Dotson filled in for catcher J.C. Kira, who could not play on Sunday due to illness. Drohan said Kira had a fever and was unable to warm up. The senior catcher had started 179 straight games — the longest streak in NU history.

Leto, who stretched her team-high hitting streak to 13 games, said she saw a shift in performance from Saturday to Sunday.

“The difference was that even when (Michigan State) scored, we kept pushing back in the first game,” Leto said. “We needed to push back more this time.”

Drohan said she plans to dedicate the week before the Big Ten tournament to defense and pitching. But she said she is satisfied with her team’s fourth seed in the conference tournament.

“I think we’re good,” Drohan said. “There’s no question about it. This time of year is about who shows up and fights the hardest. We started the conference a little slowly, but I’m excited about the postseason.”