Softball goes 3-1 in first week of eight-game home stand

Junior Catcher Maison Kalina connects with the ball on Mar. 25 at Margo Jonker Stadium. Josh Barnhart | Staff Photographer

It was another week of winning for the most part for the Central Michigan softball team.

The Chippewas (17-8, 2-1 MAC) went 3-1 to kick off the first four games of their eight-game home stand, which will continue into the upcoming week.

CMU won its home-opener on Wednesday, defeating Oakland 3-1. Senior pitcher Rachel Knapp took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and struck out 10 batters. 

While Knapp’s results were strong, she said her and the team both had to overcome an obstacle in order to get the win.

“I was little nervous coming out because of the weather and the team didn’t seem to have the highest energy,” Knapp said. “But we picked it up quickly and finished strong.” 

The biggest hit in the low scoring affair came from sophomore first baseman Erika Underwood, who hit a home run that carried out past the right field wall. 

“Underwood’s home run was huge to get the team going,” head coach Margo Jonker said. “Kudos to her for really stepping up her game as a first-year starter.”

The win increased the Chippewas win streak to seven games going into their weekend series against Bowling Green to open up Mid-American Conference play.

CMU came out of the gates hot, tallying 10 hits in the first game of the double-header on Friday afternoon. The Chippewas defeated the Falcons 7-1.

It was Underwood and Knapp who took the spotlight and ran with it. Underwood totaled three hits and recorded three RBIs. Underwood is currently tied with freshman shortstop Morgan Gardner for the team lead in RBIs with 14 total.

Knapp hurled a complete game to go along with nine strikeouts. The St. Joseph native notched her 10th win of the season.

In game two, the Chippewas totaled 10 hits on their way to a 3-1 victory. CMU leaned on junior pitcher Hannah Warren to hold the Falcons down on offense.

Warren tossed a complete game, going all seven innings and allowing one unearned run on six hits. The junior totaled seven strikeouts in the game and improved her record to 5-4.

It was Underwood again leading the Chippewas offensive portion of the game, going 2-for-3 while adding a pair of RBIs.

After a beautiful day for softball on Friday, the temperatures and playing conditions changed for Saturday’s contest. 

The Chippewas' nine game win streak was snapped by BGSU, losing 5-3 in a cold and rain-shortened game that ended after five innings. 

“We questioned the entire time if we should even start the game," said head coach Margo Jonker. "Looking back now, we probably shouldn't have. It was clear the weather was a big factor. Bad weather evens up teams. Both teams had to deal with it, it’s just a part of the gig when you play in March in Michigan.”

Knapp took the hill again for the third time of the week on Saturday, but this time the result was a loss. The senior pitched the full five innings, giving up five runs but only one of them were earned. Knapp is now 10-4 on the season with a 1.70 earned run average. 

The top of the fourth inning proved to be the difference in the game, when CMU committed a couple of errors and Knapp allowed a couple of hits, and the Falcons took full advantage scoring all five of their runs.

Sophomore Allison Curtis had the biggest hit of the game for CMU, driving in two runs on a single up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Even after the loss, CMU is 16-2 in its last 18 games and 9-1 in the last 10. The Chippewas will look to regroup after Saturday’s outing against No. 23 Michigan on at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Margo Jonker Stadium.

“They (Michigan) are obviously a great program and a solid team, but the mindset is you just go and play the game regardless of who the opponent is,” Jonker said. “It happens to be Michigan on Tuesday, but it was Bowling Green (Saturday), and we didn't get it done.”