Pitching shines in doubleheader sweep of Miami

Junior outfielder Sara Hansen runs to third base during the game against Valparaiso on March 28 at Margo Jonker Stadium.

Strong pitching lead Central Michigan softball to their second and third straight win in a doubleheader against Miami (Ohio) Friday at Margo Jonker Stadium.

The Chippewas allowed one run in two games, winning the first game 3-1 and second game 5-0.

“This was definitely Chippewa softball, the best we’ve played two game in a row most of the year,” said head coach Margo Jonker. “I’m really proud with how they played. Overall it was a great day for us.”

CMU sits at 12-15 overall, 2-3 in Mid-American Conference action. Senior pitcher Hanna Warren felt the wins were needed after a slow start to the season.

“We needed it, we worked hard for it,” Warren said. “It is nice being home in the home field, having the home field energy. I think our energy’s up a lot and helps having our parents (here), the coaches and local community support is a huge help.”

Game One

CMU scored first in the second set up by junior Kayla Noch’s two out single, followed by an RBI triple by Rachel Vierra, giving CMU a 1-0 lead in the second. 

CMU had an opportunity to extend its lead in the third inning.

Senior Lacy Tolfree lead off the inning with a single and advanced from first to third base off a throwing error while stealing second. Junior Sara Hansen would reach first, but a pop out by Erika Underwood, an unsuccessful bunt attempt to score Tolfree and a pop out by freshman Shaidan Knapp ended the Chippewa scoring threat.

RedHawk first baseman Johniann Wahl lead off the fourth inning with a home run to left center, tying game one at one run each. 

Senior catcher Maison Kalina lead off the fourth inning with a deep double to left center. Noch’s single allowed Kalina to score, giving CMU a 2-1 lead. Junior Andrea Perlberg entered as a pinch runner for Noch and scored off an Allison Curtis double to extend their lead to 3-1. 

Miami refused to go down quietly. The RedHawks started the seventh inning with a leadoff home run from freshman Ashton Sloan and a single from Kaitlynn Gliha. The rally would come to a hault when Rylee Whispel’s ground ball became a double play for CMU. Weaver would strike out Shannon Hohman to take game one 3-2.

Vaccaro pitched four and two-third innings, allowing one run on three hits. Weaver allowed one run on two hits with two strikeouts in two and one third innings of work.

Noch finished two-for-three with an RBI and crossing home plate once, crediting her success to her teammates.

“Honestly, Maison Kalina was smoking the ball, she was on fire,” Noch said. “Hitting behind her was so much fun. She made it so much easier to go up (to the plate).”

Underwood also finished two-for-three in game one

Vierstra allowed three runs off 10 hits, striking out two Chippewas in six innings of work for the RedHawks. Friday’s was the freshman’s 14 start and seventh complete game of the 2018 season. 

Game Two

Much like the opener of the doubleheader, game two started off slow, but the Chippewas struck first.

An error from Miami first baseman Wahl started what would be a long inning for the RedHawks. CMU posted four runs off three hits in the bottom half of the third to open a 4-0 lead, sending eight batters to the plate during the inning. 

Shannan Hohman lasted two and one-third innings, surrendering four runs (three earned) off six hits, walking one and striking out two. Taylor Rathe pitched three and two-third innings in relief, allowing one unearned run and three hits.

The Chippewas would add another run as an error by Mimai outfielder Megan Wurts off a Knapp single, sending Gardner home andextending CMU’s lead to 5-0. 

Warren would pitch seven shutout innings, allowing two hits and three walk while striking out six.

“I just told myself to be more relaxed,” Warren said. “I tense up very easily, sometimes I let my anxiety get the most out of me. I kind of took a step back and talked to coach (Jonker) a little bit, talked to my teammates and just said ‘hey, you know what? Don’t let it get to you.’”

“I’m kind of an easy going, fun personality, I was stepping away from that in my past games. I kind of just went in there and said ‘no matter the outcome you’re going to be chill, you’re going to be relaxed and you’re going to take your time and throw strikes and get ahead”

Knapp would finish a flawless three-for-three with two RBI’s. Gardner finished two-for-three with an RBI.

The series finale is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, March 31 at Margo Jonker Stadium.