The softball team won’t be traveling far for its first NCAA tournament game since 2004 as it drew the Ann Arbor Regional.
There the team will play at 4:30 Friday against California while the host Michigan will play Valparasio.
“Going into the regional, now you’ve got Cal, who has played great competition,” said head coach Margo Jonker. “Michigan has played good competition obviously and between that and Valpo you can’t over look … it’ll be a great challenge for us.”
The analyst also thought it would be challenge as they picked this regional to be the toughest in the entire tournament.
“I don’t really know why they thought it was the toughest regional,” Jonker said. “I don’t know if it was just because of Michigan and Cal and we need show them that there is another team there. But, Central Michigan has respect from Michigan for sure and around the country.”
Despite this being a tough regional, the Chippewas received a nice draw being close to home, on a field they are familiar with and against an opponent who must travel across the nation.
CMU plays the Wolverines nearly every year and have made numerous trips to Alumni Field, including this season.
“Yeah, I think there is a little bit (of an advantage),” said senior pitcher Kara Dornbos. “But, we still have to come play our game because it’s not our field, but it’s nice to be used to that field a little.”
The Chippewas are 4-4 all-time against the Golden Bears, 30-46 against U of M and 1-1 against the Crusaders and they aren’t all too familiar with the schools outside of the Wolverines.
“Nope, nothing,” said junior catcher Cory DeLamielleure when asked what she knew about Cal. “Once we get our scouting reports on Cal we’ll start going through how we’re going to pitch and prepare ourselves for the hitters we’re going to be facing.”
Cal does have senior All-American pitcher Jolene Henderson, but she suffered a leg injury on April 21 against Oregon State. Since that game she has played sparingly, but did get a complete game win at Washington on Saturday.
Between the Golden Bears win Saturday and Henderson’s injury the team went 0-8.
But, Henderson does seem to be back and regardless of who is in the circle for Cal, CMU will have to focus to make a run at a Regional Championship.
“Now we’re in regionals, so we’re at a whole other level,” Jonker said. “Our players played extremely well in the MAC tournament, so we need to keep playing like that.”
If fans would like to go to the NCAA Regional Tournament they will have to contact Michigan at (734) 764-0247 or go online and order tickets from www.mgoblue.com
Tickets in the outfield bleachers are $8, reserved bleacher tickets are $10 and chairback seats are $12.