Softball wins the MAC title in 11-inning battle
Sophomore Trista Cox hit a two-run home run in the 11th inning against Northern Illinois to clinch the Mid-American Conference Softball Tournament title and head coach Margo Jonker’s 1,100th victory.
“It’s indescribable; it’s a great feeling,” Cox said. “At the same time, (we have to) just remember to stay humble and know that we have work to do Monday to prepare for the postseason.”
Cox only had one RBI in the MAC tournament coming into Saturday’s game, but she was one of four Chippewas to hit above .350 during the tournament.
“There’s so much intensity, we just feed off each other,” Cox said. “We want to do the best that we can for the rest of the team.”
No. 3 CMU had to beat No. 4 Northern Illinois for the second-straight day after the Huskies beat No. 1 Ball State earlier Saturday in the losers bracket final to go to the overall final where the Huskies would have had to win twice.
“Trista came up big,” Jonker said. “(She) hit it far enough that no one could catch it.”
The Chippewas thought they had a walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth when freshman Katelyn Rentschler hit a ball all the way to the fence, but NIU was able to get the out.
Senior Kara Dornbos pitched all four games of the tournament for CMU and allowed her first run Saturday when junior Ashley Kopp hit a home run in the top of the fourth to tie the game 1-1.
“Kara did a great job in the circle. Giving up one run in three games is pretty amazing,” Jonker said. “I thought that they were starting to get on her, so we put (Chelsea) Sundberg in at that point in time.”
Dornbos had pitched every inning of the tournament until she was taken out in the sixth inning Saturday. Dornbos ended the tournament 3-0 with a 0.29 ERA and three complete games, which was enough for her to be awarded the Tournament MVP.
“Our whole team should have got (the MVP) because I had success off defense and Cory did a great job behind the plate,” Dornbos said. “It wasn’t just me, it was everyone.”
Senior Macy Merchant, junior Cory DeLamielleure and sophomore CarolAnn Sexauer joined Dornbos on the 2013 MAC All-Tournament team.
Sexauer led the team in batting average during the tournament at .429 while Merchant led the team with five runs.
DeLamielleure caught all four games four the Chippewas and received constant praise from Jonker and Dornbos for her role in calling the pitches.
DeLamielleure and Sundberg had their work cut out for them in extra innings, but didn’t give up a run after blowing the lead in the seventh.
Even though junior Chelsea Sundberg was one strike away from finishing off the game when senior Amanda Sheppard singled and junior Nicole Gremillion doubled to tie the game at two, she pitched the final four innings without giving up a run.
Sundberg earned the win and sophomore Emily Norton took the loss.
Both teams mirrored each other in the extra innings until Cox hit the game-winner.
NIU had runners at first and third in the top of the eighth, but both runners were stranded. It was a similar story for CMU, as two runners were also left on first and third. Neither team got on base in the ninth.
The Huskies had a leadoff single to start the tenth, but couldn’t advance the runner from there. Senior Summer Knoop had a leadoff double in the bottom half of the inning, but couldn’t score.
CMU will find out where they will play in the postseason on the selection show that will be televised on ESPNU Sunday at 10 p.m.
There will be a viewing party with the softball team at O’Kelly’s and will be open to the public