Michigan State earned a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over Mercer on Friday, which stood as the 700th win for Spartan head coach Jacquie Joseph as the MSU head coach.
Joseph, who has more than 800 victories overall in her career and is a member of the NFCA Hall of Fame, is in her 26th season in the Spartan dugout.
The Spartans got on the board early, as MSU got solo homers in each of the first three innings. Caitie Ladd, Kaitlyn Eveland, and Ebonee Echols each went yard.
Meanwhile, the Bears (10-12) exploded for a five-run inning in the bottom of the third to turn a 3-0 deficit into a 5-3 lead on six base hits. Mercer threatened a big inning again in the fifth as it loaded the bases with no outs, but Alli Walker got a lineout, strikeout, and fielder’s choice to get out of the inning with no damage; she then shut down the Bears in the final two innings to put her team in a position to win.
MSU, (6-14), which had used the big blasts to score in the early innings, went to small ball to rally for three runs in the top of the sixth. The Spartans had a trio of singles, a double by Katie Quinlan, and a sac bunt by Lexi White to help fuel the rally, which allowed the Green & White to reclaim the lead.
Walker threw the final three innings to earn the win and even her record at 3-3. She allowed just two hits, striking out one and walking one. Jordan Watson started the game and went 2.1 innings, surrendering four base hits and three earned runs. McKenna Gregory came on in relief and went 1.2 innings and gave up two runs before Walker finished up.
Micayla Rood, Danielle Castleberry, and Abby Walsh all had two base hits for the Bears, and Bailey Pattison went the distance in the circle, striking out two and allowing 12 base hits.
“We had a very, very difficult start to the day with everyone more than a little out of sync. We took the break between games to re-focus and get our minds right and obviously were much improved in the nightcap. We got some big swings from players who really wanted to break out offensively, and after we fell behind we were able to play small-ball to retake the lead. Some days with a young team you take steps backward after you’ve made progress, and that’s what we had to work through this morning. The most important thing was how we responded tonight against Mercer.”