Softball splits in Toledo, remains tied atop MAC standings

Entering the second day of action in Toledo, Central Michigan softball was tied atop the Mid American Conference West Division with Ball State.

After splitting the doubleheader on Saturday afternoon, the Chippewas will retain that position following Ball State's split against Eastern.

CMU fell in game one to Toledo, 4-2, then rallied in the second game to take the 6-4 victory, improving to 26-12 overall and 11-4 in the MAC.

"The key is, we won the series," said head coach Margo Jonker. "It was a tough two games all the way around."

Game one was especially tough for MAC pitcher of the week senior Rachael Knapp, who gave up an uncharacteristic eight hits to Toledo along with four runs and just four strikeouts.

Knapp had previously pitched all nine innings in the 1-0 extra inning defeat of the Rockets on Friday, however Jonker expressed that her ace wasn't fatigued, just off her game.

"I think it was just an off day for her," Jonker said.

Junior Hanna Warren got the start in the second game, pitching all seven innings for the Chippewas. She allowed eight hits, four runs and recording two strikeouts.

In the bottom of the sixth with the game tied 4-4, Warren pitched herself into and out of a bases loaded jam, allowing no runs to come from the late offensive charge by Toledo.

Junior Sydney Heath emerged as the hero of game two with her two-run home run in the top of the seventh to break the 4-4 tie and give CMU a 6-4 lead. It would prove to be the game winning runs.

"That was awesome," Jonker said. "Great at-bat for her at a timely moment."

CMU has just three more conference series against Northern Illinois, Ball State and Eastern Michigan. While the goal of being crowned regular season MAC champions for the first time since 2004 remains, Jonker emphasized that her team needs to continue to focus on the games and innings in front of them.

"We just need to keep playing each game, one inning at a time," Jonker said. "Just focusing on going for it and having some fun."