NORMAL, Ill. (iupuijags.com) – In what felt like the only acceptable way to go out, the IUPUI softball team (23-31) saw their season come to an end in the National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC) Wednesday (May 17) as the team was ousted by Michigan State (32-23) 7-1. The Jags featured a lineup that was partially selected by the senior players, giving one of the most accomplished classes in program history one last hurrah with their teammates.
The seniors tabbed Maggie Armstrong as the starting pitcher, as the two-way threat threw five innings while giving up two earned runs on seven hits, walking three in the outing. Alyssa Matson played center field for the first time all season, as Ashley Ousley got the start in right field. Adison Lorsung recorded her first career start, beginning the game as the designated player and ending in right field.
Roni Patterson was the big bat in the lineup, going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, finishing her career with 219 hits, three shy of the all-time record. Alyssa Matson had the only other hit, going 1-for-3 with a run scored.
The Spartans were able to jump on the Jags in the first inning, as an error on a bloop hit into shallow left field led to three bags for MSU. They'd cash in on a fielder's choice to short that didn't produce an out, followed soon after by an RBI single. It'd take the Jags until the third inning to get onto the board, as Matson recorded the first IUPUI hit of the game on an infield single just beyond the outstretched glove of the pitcher. With a runner on, Matson moved into scoring position on a ground out, prompting Patterson's second trip the plate. The senior backstop would uncork a hard hit double to left center field that brought her senior teammate home on the play, giving the Jags their first tally.
IUPUI would surrender another run in the bottom half of the fourth inning, as the Spartans were able to reclaim a two-run edge. The team seemed to have something brewing in the top half as the Jags were able to get the leadoff runner on, but a strange call on a double play erased the threat. The second-base umpire claimed the batter popped off the bag on a slide and was tagged simultaneously with the limited amount of time separated from the bag. The next batter popped up to end the inning.
Michigan State was able to tally again in the fifth inning, as a hit-by-pitch to a pinch hitter loaded up the bases with two down. A pinch hitter then stepped in and smacked an RBI single to center field, but Matson, making good on her debut at the eight, came up firing and nailed the second runner at home as they tried to score a second. The Spartans led 4-1.
In the top of the sixth inning, Taylor Chitwood worked out a walk to bring up Patterson with no outs. Patterson, who has been tearing the cover off the ball as of late, tagged a ball back up the middle that unintentionally made contact with the pitcher's knee, forcing the Spartan from the game due to injury. With runners at first and second and a new pitcher, the Jags unfortunately hit into a double play, as the third baseman touched the bag to force the lead runner and completed it on a throw across the diamond. After a hit-by-pitch, a ground out ended the inning.
Erica Tharp took over to pitch the bottom of the sixth inning, as the Spartans promptly recorded a walk, single and a homerun to put up three runs in a hurry. Tharp rebounded to retire the side quickly, sending the Jags to their last chance in the seventh.
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