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Central Michigan softball will be without its longtime ace Kara Dornbos as it sets to defend the Mid-American Conference championship in 2014.
The Chippewas are looking to fill Dornbos' 179 innings pitched last season with a staff of three returning pitchers who combined for 179.2 innings last season, and two additional pitchers.
Dornbos left her mark in several career records in program history.
This Valentine's Day will mark the 19th year softball has participated in the "Have a Heart" program in conjunction with the Isabella County Commission on Aging.
Since 1995, the team has helped distribute “Have a Heart” boxes to older county residents around Valentine’s Day.
Since my arrival on campus in 2010 I've been working at the sports desk of Central Michigan Life, and this is my last issue on staff.
It has been a great three and-a-half years, but now I'm off to Big Rapids to work at The Pioneer.
The last weekend of the fall season was full of ups and downs for the softball team at the Traverse City West Collegiate Softball Tournament.
Central Michigan joined Michigan, Western Michigan and Oakland last weekend for a two-day tournament. The Chippewas struggled the first day, losing to Michigan, tying Oakland and beating WMU.
They would finish strong by beating Oakland in the knockout round and losing to Michigan 4-1 in the final to finish second.
"We did not play well on Saturday.
Softball hopes to build on its successful fall exhibitions this weekend at the Traverse City West Collegiate Softball Tournament.
The four-team tournament will feature three, five-inning games of round-robin play on Saturday.
Pitching has led the way for softball during the fall exhibition schedule.
The Chippewas pitching staff has allowed a total of three runs through three games in the fall.
This fall, four players have stepped into the circle for the Chippewas and all have looked impressive.
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Softball continued its winning ways during thefall exhibitions by beating Grand Valley State 3-0 and 2-0 in a doubleheader Sunday afternoon.
The Chippewas had plenty of opportunities to score during both games, but were only able to capitalize on a few chances.
Softball has plenty of options to fill the hole left by former pitcher Kara Dornbos, who graduated last spring, and one of those options is freshman Rachael Knapp.
The first year from Jenison, Mich., started Wednesday’s fall exhibition against Northwood by going two scoreless innings and striking out two batters.
“I think she did a nice job for her first outing," said head coach Margo Jonker.
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Veteran leadership is something the 2013 softball team certainly didn't lack, and it led them to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004.
The bulk of that leadership came from the seniors: pitcher Kara Dornbos and outfielders Macy Merchant, Brogan Darwin and Summer Knoop.
Sophomore third baseman Trista Cox was quick to say the four will be irreplaceable.
"The seniors set a big stage for us and they're four very irreplaceable people," she said.
Leaving runners on base, walks and errors will come back to haunt you in softball.
Central Michigan felt the wrath of all three on Saturday as it fell to Valparaiso 7-4 to end the season in the NCAA tournament.
"Our defense let us down today and I believe you win championships behind defense," said head coach Margo Jonker.
Early on, it looked like senior pitchers Kara Dornbos and California's Jolene Henderson were going to be locked into a pitchers duel.
After Central Michigan softball took a 1-run lead in the fourth inning, the Golden Bears answered with a three spot in the bottom half of the inning when junior Victoria Jones hit a three-run home run to left field.
From then on, it was all Cal.
The softball team will start the NCAA Softball Regional in Ann Arbor at 4:30 p.m. Friday against California.
While Michigan's Alumni Field is no mystery to the Chippewas, the Golden Bears are.
The first thing to know about Cal is its pitching staff.
The Golden Bears are equipped with All-American senior pitcher Jolene Henderson, who is 30-9 this season with a 1.23 ERA and is up for the National Player of the Year award.
On April 21, Henderson suffered a leg injury, and the team then lost nine-straight before Henderson threw a complete game to end the regular season on Saturday.
Senior pitcher Kara Dornbos's postseason numbers are astounding, to say the least.
She threw 25.1 innings in the softball team's Mid-American Conference championship run, going 3-0 with a 0.28 ERA.
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For the second year in a row the softball team won its way into the Mid-American Conference Softball Championship series with a 5-0 win against Northern Illinois .
And, much like last season, it's been senior ace Kara Dornbos leading the way.
Senior Kara Dornbos outperformed Kent State Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year sophomore Emma Johnson to advance softball to the MAC tournament winner’s bracket final.
Dornbos pitched seven shutout innings and allowed three Golden Flashes hits Thursday in route to the 1-0 victory and her second victory in two days.