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McCall Salmon introduced as CMU softball coach


New Central Michigan softball head coach McCall Salmon delivers an opening statement on June 21 in the Kulhavi Events Center. 

McCall Salmon was introduced as the third head coach in Central Michigan softball history at a press conference June 21 in the Kulhavi Events Center.

The new coach, who hails from Grand Ledge, said she is thankful for the opportunity to take on the role Margo Jonker built during her 40-year career. 

"I've got some big shoes to fill," Salmon said. "I'm ready to jump into those shoes and bring what I've done and my leadership qualities to developing student athletes to Central." 

Athletic Director Michael Alford praised Salmon for her winning track record. 

As a student, she was a three-time all-conference award winner in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference with Aquinas College (Grand Rapids) where she played first base/utility. She was an assistant coach with Davenport University (Grand Rapids) and helped the Panthers win the WHAC regular season and tournament titles two times. As the head coach of the Panthers, she guided the program to the 2017 NAIA World Series. 

"(Salmon) has won every phase of her career," Alford said. "This is a trait – if you look back at our recent searches – that we look for."

In terms of maintaining tradition, Alford said Salmon is the right fit to uphold the tradition her predecessor built during a career that spanned four decades. 

"The success of the program in (the Mid-American Conference) is unmatched," he said. "People know how strong it is because of (Jonker's) career." 

Checking the boxes

When Jonker announced her retirement on May 13, Alford knew he needed to find a replacement quickly. He prefers to have coaching replacements named as soon as possible. 

"We try to be prepared immediately," Alford said. "We know the people we want to talk to, and we knew that (Salmon) was one of them. In talking to head coaches across the country, (Salmon) always came back with great recommendations." 

After Jonker made the decision to step away from softball, Alford said the program needed someone like her. He wants a coach that will take great care of the players, build a strong team culture and win. 

Salmon checked all of the boxes.

"I'm really excited to get to know the girls and build that trust with them," Salmon said. "We will work hard every day and that hard work will turn into success."

Utilize power to win

Last year's Davenport team hit 30 home runs as part of 110 extra-base hits. That put the Panthers second in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in that category, behind Ashland's 129. Davenport had a 3.40 team ERA, second in the GLIAC to Ashland's 2.63 ERA. 

Salmon said she wants to have an aggressive mindset for the Chippewas next season. She wants to see power hitters hit home runs and pitchers dominate the circle. A high-energy attitude from the team is the key to success, according to Salmon.

"We want to develop hitters that can hit the gaps and hit the ball over the fence," Salmon said. "We want to take extra bases whenever we can and develop our speed. Then we can attack on the mound." 

Salmon has made the jump to a higher division before – she helped guide Davenport from the NAIA, to NCAA Division II. She will make another jump to NCAA Division I with a new school, but her coaching style will remain the same.

"We're going to continue to work and get 1 percent better every day," Salmon said. "It's going to be my job to push (the players) every day to those limits where they're comfortable with being uncomfortable."