Seniors play in last home game, earn MAC West Division title
Earlier this season, senior right fielder Evelyn Lorimer summed up what the Central Michigan softball team has been fighting for all season.
“All I want is to help this team get back to the top because they deserve it, we all do,” Lorimer said. “I want everyone to play their hardest and do everything they can to get back to the (Mid-American Conference Tournament), and honestly, a regular season championship would be great to.”
That regular season championship became a reality on April 29.
Four seniors played their last game at Margo Jonker Stadium that Saturday as the Chippewas completed a three-game sweep against Ball State over the weekend. This guarantees the team at least a share of its first MAC West division title since 2008.
With one win next weekend at Eastern Michigan (15-32 overall, 3-18 MAC), the Chippewas will win the MAC West outright.
For head coach Margo Jonker, winning the MAC West title felt like redemption.
"The kids really bought in this year," Jonker said. "Last year was tough so I think none of us wanted to deal with that again.”
The Chippewas finished with a 24-27-1 record last season. With three games left in the regular season on this campaign, the team sits at 34-13 overall with a 16-5 MAC record.
Senior pitcher Rachael Knapp was on last years team and finished with a 14-14 record overall. Her improvements this season have been monumental.
The St. Joseph native now finds herself with a 20-8 overall record, 1.30 earned run average and 226 strikeouts on the season. She is in the top three spots of the MAC in all of those select categories.
"Rachael made a commitment over the summer that she was going to out work everybody and be a leader," Jonker said. "Knapp's strikeouts, of course, we will miss a lot (next year).”
Overall, CMU is now two games ahead of Ohio which is 14-7 in the MAC. With a sweep next weekend or two Ohio losses, the Chippewas would secure their first outright MAC championship since 2004.
Other than Lorimer and Knapp, CMU will be losing another pair of valuable players from this season’s squad. Infielder Taylor Lewallen and catcher Danielle Marlink played their final game at Margo Jonker stadium on Saturday.
Lewallen has started 42 games this season and has held a .290 batting average. The Surprise, Arizona, native had scored eight runs to go along with her 16 runs batted in so far this season.
As for Marlink, she has been the starting catcher in 26 of the 28 games she has played in, totaling a .250 batting average with seven RBI and five runs scored of her own. Behind the dish, she has a .944 fielding percentage.
The Chippewas close out conference play at Eastern Michigan on Wednesday and Thursday with games starting at 3 p.m. and 1 p.m. in Ypsilanti.