Nikki Nicosia Hits Three Homers as Softball Sweeps Wisconsin

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - Nikki Nicosia went 4-for-7, including three home runs and five RBI, to help the Spartans (16-15, 2-2) sweep Wisconsin (10-25, 0-4) in Sunday's doubleheader at Old College Field. Bianca Mejia tacked on Michigan State's other five runs, as she went 3-for-5 with two home runs and a double. MSU defeated the Badgers with scores of 8-2 and 4-0.

"I just knew that I needed to come out aggresive at the plate, and hit the ball for my team," said Nicosia. "We talked about not playing hard against Minnesota until the end of the games, and we wanted to make a change today."

Nicosia currently leads the team batting .385, with a team-high 42 hits and 28 runs scored. She is second on the team, along with Gina Mondo, with four home runs, while Mejia's five dingers lead the category.

The pair of wins on Sunday helped boost the Spartans' Big Ten record to 2-2, evening the mark after MSU dropped games on Friday and Saturday to Minnesota.

"I'm glad we were able to salvage the weekend and even things up," said head coach Jacquie Joseph. "I told our team to put the Minnesota series behind us, but to also make corrections and play a better game today, the kind of game I know we're capable of playing."

Freshman hurler Shae Bass returned to the circle for the first time since March 5, having suffered a back injury. Bass threw the entire first game, recording a career-high six strikeouts, while allowing just one earned run. Lesley Noel returned to the mound, and pitched a complete game-two, after throwing over nine innings in the Friday-Saturday series with the Gophers. Noel rung up three Badgers on Sunday, and threw her third shutout of the season, giving up no runs on five hits.

Nicosia opened game one with a lead-off home run on a 3-1 count. Kara Weigle walked on the next at bat, and Mejia followed with a double to left field, driving in Weigle to put MSU ahead 2-0. And while the Badgers battled back with a run in the top of the second, MSU countered with four runs in the bottom of the inning, taking a 6-1 advantage. Runs in the bottom of the third and sixth would seal the 8-2 victory for Michigan State. Wisconsin earned its second run with a solo home run by Lynn Anderson in the top of the third.

Game two started relatively slowly compared to the previous contest, but again, MSU drew first blood when Nicosia opened the third inning with a lead-off home run as rain began to fall. The 1-0 margin would hold on until Nicosia sent another bomb over the right-field fence - this time a two-run homer as Jessica LeFevre was on second base - to put the Spartans ahead 3-0. Mejia finished off the game's scoring with a solo shot as the first batter in the fifth inning.

Designated player LeFevre was also hot from the dish on Sunday, tallying three hits in the doubleheader, while Weigle, Mondo and Caitlin Mahoney also each successfully put the ball in play twice.

Michigan State stays at home for a midweek meeting with a familiar non-conference opponent on Wednesday, April 2, as Eastern Michigan comes to Old College Field for a 4 p.m. contest. The two programs have met 38 times, while MSU leads the series 24-14.

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