Softball looks to bounce back, takes on Ball State in weekend series

Freshman infielder Shaidan Knapp runs through third base during the game against Valparaiso on March 28 at Margo Jonker Stadium.

Now losers of three consecutive games, the Central Michigan softball team finds themselves near the bottom half of the Mid-American Conference West Division standings.

CMU (18-18, 8-6 MAC) dropped down to fourth place in the MAC West, trailing first place Toledo (28-14, 12-2) by four games.

Now, the Chippewas have their sights set to make up some of that ground against Ball State (27-15, 8-5) in a three game series starting at 3 p.m. on March 20 in Muncie, IN. BSU is ahead of CMU by a half game in the MAC West.

“We never have expectations for a specific team,” said head coach Margo Jonker. “The goal is to work hard and take one pitch at a time. You can’t go in with expectations because that never goes well.”

During the Chippewas three-game losing skid, they have been outscored 13-1. 

“Since we’ve been inside, we’ve been working on primarily hitting and pitching stuff,” Jonker said. “It’s hard to work on the defense when you're inside like this so mainly we are focusing on the offense.”

Senior catcher Maison Kalina said the bus ride back from Eastern Michigan after losing two games had a disappointed feel.

“Pretty quiet,” Kalina said. “There wasn’t much said at all.”

CMU managed 12 hits over the three straight losses but was only able to push across one run. Kalina said the team doesn't really have an answer for the slump but is looking to work through it.

“We’ve been talking about (hitting) in practice and meetings but it’s something we are ready to look past and start new,” Kalina said. “We’ve been going back to basics and playing Chippewa softball like we know how to.”

Starting with the BSU game this week, the Chippewas only have 10 regular season games remaining before the MAC Tournament. 

“We need to get back to business,” Jonker said. “We’ve only got a couple weeks left in the regular season and we want to finish strong.”

Scouting BSU

The Cardinals find themselves on a losing streak as well, dropping two consecutive games and three of their last four.

BSU has one of the leagues top offenses, ranking first in slugging percentage (.489), on base percentage (.401), runs scored (241) runs batted in (220), total bases (534) and home runs (46).

The offense is led by a pair of power hitters, senior Maddy Labrador and sophomore Janae Hogg. The two hitters have combined for 21 home runs, 12 of them coming from Hogg. Labrador leads the team with 43 RBI and Hogg is right behind her with 39.

As for pitching, the ace of the staff is junior right-hander Aeshia Miles (14-7). She has posted a 2.37 earned run average and is fourth in the MAC with 120 strikeouts to just 37 walks. Closing the door with seven saves to lead the conference is sophomore right-hander Alyssa Rothwell.