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Michigan State Softball: 2021 Season Recap

MSU Athletic Communications

The Michigan State Spartans Softball team wrapped up the 2021 spring season on Sunday, May 16, failing to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament or other postseason games. The team finished 14-26 overall, going 8-7 in East Lansing, 3-10 on the road, and 3-9 on neutral fields. Michigan State managed to split series against Nebraska, Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Penn State, while winning the series against Rutgers. The Spartans avoided a sweep in all but two series, falling to Northwestern in both games and Minnesota in all three.

MSU opened the season down in Leesburg, Florida in pod play with Northwestern, Nebraska, and Iowa Feb. 26-Feb. 28. All three series were doubleheaders each day of the weekend. The Spartans were swept by NU 5-0 in both games Friday. However, against UNL the Spartans were able to avoid the sweep. Despite opening the series with a 1-7 loss, MSU rebounded in game two for a 6-3 win. Michigan State scored three runs in the top of the third inning, then held on through the bottom of the sixth to force extra innings. Then the offense went crazy in the top of the eighth with another three score inning that saw the defense hold strong for the 6-3 win. The weekend pod wrapped up with a split with Iowa, falling 1-6 in the first game and winning 1-0 in the second.

Michigan State headed back to Florida for another pod two weekends later. The Spartans faced the Illini in a doubleheader Thursday, March 11 and fell in both, 2-7 and 3-9. The team avoided a sweep with a 5-2 win on Friday, however. A doubleheader with Minnesota on Saturday also resulted in losses, 3-5 in the first game and 2-6 in the second. Unfortunately, Michigan State failed to avoid the sweep in the series on Sunday with a 2-3 loss.

March 26 finally saw Michigan State on its home field, as the Spartans welcomed Rutgers to Secchia Stadium. Despite an opening 2-3 loss in the series, Michigan State went on to clinch its only outright series win of the season in the remaining three games. Saturday’s doubleheader action saw MSU win 4-3 and 10-3 before Sunday’s finale resulted in a 4-1 victory-for-MSU!

One thing I noticed is social media graphics for softball don’t seem to get the same attention as other sports, especially men’s sports, but I digress.

Following the Rutgers series sweep, a four-game series scheduled against Michigan for April 3 and April 4 split in Ann Arbor (first three games) and East Lansing (final Sunday game) was postponed. Michigan State had the weekend off as a result, and headed out to College Park, Maryland for a four-game series against the Terrapins on April 9 and April 10 instead. The Spartans won the series opener Friday, 2-0, but fell in the doubleheader in just five innings, 1-9. Saturday saw back-to-back losses, 1-6 and 4-5.

The Spartans ended up with a single make-up game scheduled at Michigan on Wednesday, April 14 but fell, 1-6. Then the Penn State series scheduled April 16-April 18 was postponed. MSU next faced Purdue in East Lansing April 23-April 25. A series opener on Friday started with a 4-2 win before the doubleheader saw a close 7-8 loss. Saturday resulted in a 6-9 loss, but Michigan State rallied Sunday to split the series with a 3-2 win.

Michigan State kept it to the Hoosier state for the following weekend series as the Spartans headed to Bloomington to take on Indiana. Friday’s opening game resulted in a 1-0 loss, and Saturday was equally disappointing with 0-4 and 0-3 losses in the day’s doubleheader action. However, MSU salvaged the series from a total sweep with a 2-0 win Sunday, May 2.

The return trip by Michigan to East Lansing followed the Indiana series with a visit by the Wolverines on May 5. The game was a tough fight that resulted in nine total innings before Michigan finally managed the lone score of the game for the win, heading home with the season sweep in a 1-0 victory.

The Badgers were next up on the schedule and in East Lansing. Michigan State managed to split the series. Game one on Friday, May 7 saw extra innings as MSU took the 2-1 win in the eighth inning. Saturday was another doubleheader day and MSU fell 4-2 in another eight inning matchup to start the day, but rallied for a 2-1 win in the second game. Sunday ended with a 3-0 shutout loss to the Badgers, however, to result in a tie for the series.

MSU saw a quick turnaround for the next series as Penn State came to East Lansing for a make-up series on May 11 with a doubleheader following the earlier postponement. The Spartans fell 3-4 in the opener, but shutout the Lady Lions in game two in a 4-0 win.

Michigan State’s season wrapped up with a four-game series in Columbus to end the regular season. Friday, May 14 opened the series with a crushing 1-7 loss to the Buckeyes. However, the Spartans rebounded for game one of a doubleheader Saturday with a 5-2 win. The second game of the day was a long, long affair but ended as a hard-fought 0-1 loss in 10 innings. Then Sunday saw a heartbreaking 0-5 shutout loss to end the 2021 season for the Spartans.

Michigan State freshman Ashley Miller earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team. In addition to Miller, senior Joanna Bartz was Michigan State’s honoree for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.

While the season may have been a bit of a disappointment in on-field results, the Spartans excelled in the classroom. Four Spartans posted a perfect 4.0 GPA and a number of others had a successful academic semester.

However, that’s a wrap on the 2021 season. We’ll be back next year as the Spartans take the field in 2022.