Softball takes home several MAC awards after winning first championship since 2004


The softball team huddles together during the Chippewas game against the University of Michigan on March 28 at Margo Jonker Stadium.

The Central Michigan softball team put together one of their best seasons in over a decade, going 36-13 overall and 18-5 in the Mid-American Conference to be crowned as the champion for the first time since 2004.

Now, they are getting rewarded for it.

Five players among the 2017 squad, and head coach Margo Jonker, were honored by the MAC on Tuesday with different awards.

For the 10th time in her 38 year run with the CMU softball program, Jonker was named the MAC coach of the year. It’s the first time it has happened since 2002.

“This team was one of the best ones I can remember having and everyone just really bought in this season,” Jonker said. “We still have much more we want to accomplish but it is nice to start getting some awards, the most important being the MAC champion of course.”

As for the players, senior pitcher Rachael Knapp took home the most hardware, being named not only to just the All-MAC First Team, but the MAC Pitcher of the Year.

The right-hander from St. Joseph was given the MAC West Pitcher of the Week title seven times throughout the season. She piled up a conference-best 10 shutouts, while allowing only 41 earned runs on 143 hits.

Knapp (21-8) recorded 235 strikeouts and a 1.39 earned run average, which was good for second in the MAC in both categories, to go with 53 walks.

“Rachael is one of the most special players I have ever coached in this program,” Jonker said. “I always knew she could put up the numbers she has, and she put in a lot of work last summer to get where she is right now. It’s all paying off.”

Joining Knapp on the All-MAC First Team was sophomore center fielder Allison Curtis and junior catcher Maison Kalina.

Curtis who is from Tucson, Ariz., totaled a .394 batting average which led CMU and was good for second in the MAC. She posted 63 hits, with 10 doubles, a league-best five triples, and one home run.

Kalina, who also was a designated player at times this season, hit .345 which was second among CMU starters. She posted 50 hits and 23 runs batted in.

Sophomore second baseman Rachel Vieira and junior pitcher Hanna Warren were the final Chippewas named on the day, getting All-MAC second team honors.

Vieira, a Clarkston native, hit .268 on the season while leading the team in home runs (5) and RBI (26).

Warren (11-5), who split the starting pitching duties with Knapp all-season, posted a 2.61 ERA in 88.2 innings of work. The Canton native allowed 81 hits, 33 earned runs, 31 walks, and stuck out 61 opposing batters.

The Chippewas will return to action on Wednesday at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio for the first round of the MAC Tournament. They will take on Western Michigan (21-26, 9-12) with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.

CMU outscored their rival Broncos this season 20-2, sweeping the three-game season series.