Softball starts slow, finishes strong in USF Under Armour Invitational

Players break a huddle before the game against Western Michigan University on April 12, 2017 at Margo Jonker Stadium.

After playing five games in three days at the USF Under Amour Invitational, the Central Michigan softball team ended the weekend on a win.

Following a win in the opener against Penn, the Chippewas lost three straight games (Wisconsin, Wright State, South Florida), and had a late-inning comeback to close the weekend against Charleston. 

CMU (6-7) went 2-3 in the invitational. 

Late magic and falling short

The Chippewas started the weekend off with a two-run home run from senior catcher Maison Kalina in the sixth inning to break a scoreless tie.

The two-run shot ended up being the only runs scored in the entire game as CMU edged Penn.

Senior pitcher Hanna Warren (2-3) threw a complete game shutout. She tossed a three-hitter and struck out two batters.

Senior outfielder Lacy Tolfree had three hits while adding a pair of steals for CMU at the dish, respectively.

In the second game of the day, it was the Chippewas who could never get the bats going against the Badgers.

Wisconsin added three runs in the third inning which would end up being enough to win the game. 

Freshman pitcher Haley Hestekin (3-3) earned the win for the Badgers. She went the complete game with allowing one earned run on five hits with three strikeouts. Freshman pitcher Cloe Mallory (2-1) picked up the loss for the Chippewas.

One-run losses

Holding a 5-4 lead over WSU heading into the sixth inning, senior pitcher Taylor Weaver (0-2) allowed a pair of runs to eventually be the difference in a 6-5 loss.

Junior utility player Kayla Noch hit a two-run homer to lead CMU at the plate. The Chippewas had six hits in the game. 

Freshman Samantha Howell started the game, allowing three earned runs on five hits over 3.1 innings. Ashley Sharp (2-8) earned the win for WSU going the complete game.

It was more heartbreak for the Chippewas in game two of the day as USF scored four unanswered runs to comeback and top CMU.

Warren started the game allowing three runs on 10 hits over 4.2 innings of work. Mallory (1-2) came in for relief to get the loss, allowing a run in the sixth inning which was the difference. Hanna Parker (2-2) earned the win for the Bulls allowing zero runs over the final 3.2 innings.

Freshman infielder Shaidan Knapp hit her first career home run for the Chippewas. Junior infielder Rachel Vieira also hit a two-run homer.

Vieira led the team with three hits in the Chippewas 10-hit attack.

Strong finish

After trailing through the first five innings, the Chippewas snapped off a four-run sixth inning to take a 5-2 lead. It would lead to the eventual 6-2 win for CMU.

Kalina hit a two-run single with two outs to give the Chippewas a 3-2 lead and eventually would be the game winner. 

Junior pitcher Laura Vaccaro (1-0) earned the win, tossing three scoreless innings to close the game. Weaver started and threw four innings of two-run work.

The Chippewas will resume play at 1:30 p.m. on March 6 against Binghamton in the Citrus 2 Tournament in Clearwater, Florida.