May 15, 2004
Ann Arbor, Mich. - Michigan State picked the right time to have its first three game Conference winning streak of the year. With consecutive tournament wins over Michigan, Northwestern, and Illinois, the eighth seeded Spartans became the first bottom seed to ever win the Big Ten Softball Tournament. The win also gave Michigan State the Conference's automatic berth into NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA bracket and regional destinations will be announced Sunday night at approximately 7:30 p.m. ET.
Brittany Green provided the Michigan State offense in the championship final. The senior and four year starter was three-for-three on the day, including two home runs, four RBIs, and two runs scored.
Pitcher Jessica Beech was outstanding for State in the game, picking up her 27th win of the season. It was the second complete game of the day for the senior, who shutout Northwestern this morning, 2-0.
Illinois starting pitcher Amanda Fortune was also coming competing in her second game of the day. Fortune left the game, however, with the score tied at four and did not get a decision.
The Illini got on the board early when senior shortstop Lindsey Hamma singled home LeeAnn Butcher in the bottom of the first inning. Hamma has started every game in Illinois program history, over 200 in all.
Michigan State struck right back in the top of the second, as Green delivered her second home run of the tournament. Green was also the hero on Thursday night after hammering a homer that put State ahead of rival Michigan for good.
In the bottom of the third inning, Illinois opened up a lead via the long ball. Senior Sarah Baumgartner cracked a shot over the center field fence with nobody on and nobody out, pushing the game to 2-0, Illini. After a ground out by Erin Jones, first baseman Jenna Hall singled to the left side. Then, Hamma struck again. With Hall at first, Hamma drove a ball over the wall for her second home run of the year. Hamma finished the day three-for-four with three RBIs.
For the second time in the game, Michigan State matched Illinois' offensive efforts in the next inning. And, for the second time, Green supplied the Spartan power. The third baseman launched her second long ball of the day, a three run homer to right, that tied the game at four. Green has nine home runs on the year, including three in the Big Ten tournament.
After Green's home run and a walk to Janette Hurtado, Fortune was replaced in the circle by senior Sherri Taylor. Fortune allowed four runs on five Spartan hits.
Michigan State took its first lead of the game on a single by Elizabeth Peterson, and a two-base error, that allowed Natalie Furrow to score from first. Hurtado padded the Spartan lead with an RBI single to right, making it 6-4, Michigan State in the fifth.
Furrow came back in the sixth with her own RBI, as she singled home Angel Merren.
Pitching her 14th inning of the day, Beech did allow two hits in the bottom of the seventh, but preserved the lead and the Michigan State win.