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Softball stunned by WMU, loses in first round of the MAC Tournament

(05/10/17 7:08pm)

Senior Mid-American Conference pitcher of the year Rachael Knapp cruised through four innings of play against Western Michigan, piling up eight strikeouts against the 13 batters she faced.All the momentum in the opening round’s game two of the MAC Tournament was going towards the Central Michigan softball team.Then WMU’s sophomore second baseman Erin Barg made a diving stop at second, and proceeded to throw the runner out at first while still laying down to take a hit away from CMU and end the fourth inning. You could feel the energy it brought WMU.The proceeded to tie the game the following inning, and then the hero of the day was senior designated player Abby Stoner, who hit a 2-run home run to give WMU a 3-1 lead, and eventually the win. Knapp got charged with the loss, after somewhat falling apart to end the game, allowing three runs in the final three innings. She Struck out nine batters and allowed three hits. Junior pitcher Anissa Sanchez got the win, allowing one run on five hits.The Chippewas started off the game doing what they have done to the Broncos all season long — scoring runs.To open the game for CMU, Sanchez hit junior left fielder Lacy Tolfree with a pitch to put her on, junior designated player Masion Kalina ripped a single up the middle that scored Tolfree from first base, giving CMU the early 1-0 advantage.Things slowed down quickly for Sanchez though, as she retired the Chippewas in order the next two innings. On the other side, Knapp didn't struggle much the entire game, until the fifth inning.After allowing her first hit with one out in the fifth, Knapp found herself in a jam after senior catcher Danielle Marlink tried to throw out the base runner at second on a bunt attempt, but her trow arrived late. Knapp then walked the following batter, loading the bases with just one out, and suddenly found herself in a jam. Sophomore second baseman Erin Barg singled up the middle and scored a run, to tie the game up at one run apiece. Knapp got a fly out to end the inning, and keep the game tied at 1-1.Unfortunately for the Chippewas the bleeding didn't stop, as in the top of the sixth inning Stoner unleashed her 2-run bomb, turning the complete feel of the game and gave WMU a 3-1 lead. CMU had a threat in the final inning with a couple singles, but with runners on second and third and two outs, pinch-hitter junior Sydney Heath grounded into a fielders choice to end the game.Ball State will be CMU’s next opponent on the losers side of the bracket tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. in Akron. The Chippewas swept Ball State in their three-game series during the regular season.

Softball takes home several MAC awards after winning first championship since 2004

(05/09/17 8:16pm)

The Central Michigan softball team put together one of their best seasons in over a decade, going 36-13 overall and 18-5 in the Mid-American Conference to be crowned as the champion for the first time since 2004.Now, they are getting rewarded for it.Five players among the 2017 squad, and head coach Margo Jonker, were honored by the MAC on Tuesday with different awards.For the 10th time in her 38 year run with the CMU softball program, Jonker was named the MAC coach of the year. It’s the first time it has happened since 2002.“This team was one of the best ones I can remember having and everyone just really bought in this season,” Jonker said. “We still have much more we want to accomplish but it is nice to start getting some awards, the most important being the MAC champion of course.”As for the players, senior pitcher Rachael Knapp took home the most hardware, being named not only to just the All-MAC First Team, but the MAC Pitcher of the Year.The right-hander from St. Joseph was given the MAC West Pitcher of the Week title seven times throughout the season. She piled up a conference-best 10 shutouts, while allowing only 41 earned runs on 143 hits. Knapp (21-8) recorded 235 strikeouts and a 1.39 earned run average, which was good for second in the MAC in both categories, to go with 53 walks.“Rachael is one of the most special players I have ever coached in this program,” Jonker said. “I always knew she could put up the numbers she has, and she put in a lot of work last summer to get where she is right now. It’s all paying off.”Joining Knapp on the All-MAC First Team was sophomore center fielder Allison Curtis and junior catcher Maison Kalina.Curtis who is from Tucson, Ariz., totaled a .394 batting average which led CMU and was good for second in the MAC. She posted 63 hits, with 10 doubles, a league-best five triples, and one home run.Kalina, who also was a designated player at times this season, hit .345 which was second among CMU starters. She posted 50 hits and 23 runs batted in.Sophomore second baseman Rachel Vieira and junior pitcher Hanna Warren were the final Chippewas named on the day, getting All-MAC second team honors.Vieira, a Clarkston native, hit .268 on the season while leading the team in home runs (5) and RBI (26). Warren (11-5), who split the starting pitching duties with Knapp all-season, posted a 2.61 ERA in 88.2 innings of work. The Canton native allowed 81 hits, 33 earned runs, 31 walks, and stuck out 61 opposing batters.The Chippewas will return to action on Wednesday at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio for the first round of the MAC Tournament. They will take on Western Michigan (21-26, 9-12) with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.CMU outscored their rival Broncos this season 20-2, sweeping the three-game season series.

CMU looks to take home a MAC title from Ypsilanti

(05/05/17 3:52pm)

The Central Michigan softball team has won nine of its last ten games, including a sweep of Ball State (29-24 overall, 13-8 Mid-American Conference) which put CMU (34-13, 16-5) in sole possession of first place in the MAC West division standings.Now the Chippewas find themselves with three games left this weekend, in control of their own destiny.With a win in any of their final three regular season games against Eastern Michigan (17-32, 3-18) in Ypsilanti starting Saturday at 1 p.m., the Chippewas will have their first MAC West title since 2008. CMU also holds a two-game lead over MAC East leading Ohio (33-14, 14-7) for the overall best MAC record.“We’ve done a good job of taking it just one game at a time all season, and that is what we have to do this weekend,” head coach Margo Jonker said. “I don’t care what Eastern Michigan’s record is, it’s a long travel and we need to come ready to play which I would expect this bunch to do.” A big part of their success this season has been because of senior pitcher Rachael Knapp, who has notched the win in 20 of CMU’s 34 wins this season. The St. Joseph native has 1.30 earned run average and is holding opposing hitters to a .187 batting average, which are both tied for second in the MAC, along with her 20 wins being tied for first place.Knapp said that the team will come prepared as usual and just play “Central Michigan softball”.“We have done it all season long, and there is no reason to change it now, we just need to do what we do and take the next game as the most important,” Knapp said. “Everyone on this team knows that is the way to do it.”Expect to see Knapp and junior pitcher Hanna Warren who has also put together a respectable season, posting an 11-5 record with a 2.47 ERA to go along with it.On offense, its sophomore center fielder Allison Curtis who continues to lead the way in the batting average slot, totaling a .388 mark in 47 games this season. Junior catcher Maison Kalina is right behind her at .355 in 45 contests.Sophomore infielder Rachel Vieira leads the team in runs batted in (26) and is tied with sophomore first baseman Erika Underwood for the most home runs on the team at five.Scouting EMUThe Eagles have two players in particular who lead their offense, starting with senior outfielder Michelle Kriegshauser. The New Lenox, Illinois native leads her squad in batting average (.368), runs scored (33) and RBI (24) in 48 games. Senior catcher Taylor Wagner is right behind her with a .350 batting average, 13 runs scored, and 12 RBI in 49 games.In the circle, no pitcher in EMU’s squad has an ERA under four, averaging out to a 4.61 ERA. Junior pitcher Trisha Trujillo leads the team with eight wins and 4.02 ERA.EMU is on a recent winning streak of two games, but before those two victories had lost seven games in a row. Overall, they are just 2-8 at home this season.After Saturday's double header, the series finale will begin on Sunday at 1 p.m. to wrap up both teams season.

Seniors play in last home game, earn MAC West Division title

(04/30/17 9:26pm)

Earlier this season, senior right fielder Evelyn Lorimer summed up what the Central Michigan softball team has been fighting for all season. “All I want is to help this team get back to the top because they deserve it, we all do,” Lorimer said. “I want everyone to play their hardest and do everything they can to get back to the (Mid-American Conference Tournament), and honestly, a regular season championship would be great to.” That regular season championship became a reality on April 29. Four seniors played their last game at Margo Jonker Stadium that Saturday as the Chippewas completed a three-game sweep against Ball State over the weekend. This guarantees the team at least a share of its first MAC West division title since 2008. With one win next weekend at Eastern Michigan (15-32 overall, 3-18 MAC), the Chippewas will win the MAC West outright. For head coach Margo Jonker, winning the MAC West title felt like redemption. "The kids really bought in this year," Jonker said. "Last year was tough so I think none of us wanted to deal with that again.” The Chippewas finished with a 24-27-1 record last season. With three games left in the regular season on this campaign, the team sits at 34-13 overall with a 16-5 MAC record. Senior pitcher Rachael Knapp was on last years team and finished with a 14-14 record overall. Her improvements this season have been monumental. The St. Joseph native now finds herself with a 20-8 overall record, 1.30 earned run average and 226 strikeouts on the season. She is in the top three spots of the MAC in all of those select categories. "Rachael made a commitment over the summer that she was going to out work everybody and be a leader," Jonker said. "Knapp's strikeouts, of course, we will miss a lot (next year).” Overall, CMU is now two games ahead of Ohio which is 14-7 in the MAC. With a sweep next weekend or two Ohio losses, the Chippewas would secure their first outright MAC championship since 2004. Other than Lorimer and Knapp, CMU will be losing another pair of valuable players from this season’s squad. Infielder Taylor Lewallen and catcher Danielle Marlink played their final game at Margo Jonker stadium on Saturday. Lewallen has started 42 games this season and has held a .290 batting average. The Surprise, Arizona, native had scored eight runs to go along with her 16 runs batted in so far this season. As for Marlink, she has been the starting catcher in 26 of the 28 games she has played in, totaling a .250 batting average with seven RBI and five runs scored of her own. Behind the dish, she has a .944 fielding percentage. The Chippewas close out conference play at Eastern Michigan on Wednesday and Thursday with games starting at 3 p.m. and 1 p.m. in Ypsilanti.

Underwood brings the late game dramatics to top MSU

(04/27/17 12:02am)

More than 40 minutes worth of rain delays slowed down a close game for the Central Michigan softball team as it took on Michigan State on Wednesday, but it couldn't stop Erika Underwood.With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, the first baseman strolled to the plate after junior utility player Sydney Heath was intentionally walked, setting up a great chance for Underwood. She delivered with a walk-off grand slam to defeat the Spartans 6-2.“I don’t even know where the pitch was, I just know even when I was younger, when someone walked the person in front of me to get to me it has always made me focus more,” Underwood said. “I block out everything behind me and can’t hear anything so I was just really focused.”It was the Chippewas’ first win against a Big Ten Conference opponent in four ties this season. CMU improved to 31-13 on the year and MSU dropped to 25-19 overall.Head coach Margo Jonker said it wasn't a shock how the game played out at the finish.“The walk with the bases loaded was not a bad move at all on their part, Sydney (Heath) had gotten a hit earlier in the game and (Underwood) hadn’t been hitting for us,” Jonker said. “She came through with a big hit, she has a lot of power and hasn't shown it much yet, but I think we will see more of that in her career.”It didn't take long for the Spartans to get things going on offense. After a lead-off double to start the game, MSU’s sophomore utility player ripped a single down the third base line to score the runner from third, giving the Spartans the early 1-0 advantage.The Chippewas answered right back tho, after junior catcher Maison Kalina smashed a double over the center fielders head to score sophomore center fielder Allison Curtis to tie the game at one run apiece. With two outs in the same inning, Heath hit a dropped in a single right in front of the center fielder, scoring Kalina, which gave CMU their first lead of the afternoon at 2-1.After junior pitcher Hanna Warren escaped another jam in the top of the second, CMU got a threat going with two outs after back-to-back singles from junior left fielder Lacy Tolfree and Curtis.Zalewski came back to make a big pitch however, getting Kalina to swing and miss for a strikeout to end the bottom of the second inning with the same score in tact. In the top of the fourth inning, MSU put together another threat. Back-to-back singles started the inning off, and then a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third with only one out.With the rain starting to come down, Warren found a way to keep her pitches located solid, striking out the next hitter. Then the game took a intermission due to a rain delay.It ended up being a brief 10 minute delay before the game was resumed, with Warren still in the circle. She responded by getting a routine groundout to second base, ending the Spartan threat.Senior pitcher Rachael Knapp then came in to start the fifth inning, and she recored two easy outs before MSU’s sophomore utility player Kaitlyn Eveland hit a home run over Curtis’ head in center field to tie the game at two all. It was Eveland’s seventh homer on the year.Jonker said that the rain had nothing to do with the pitching swap. “I had told them both the day before that they were both going to be used,” Jonker said. “We wanted to use both of them against this team, and it worked out.”In the bottom of the fifth frame, Kalina squeaked a single past the short stop to start the inning off. After she was bunted to third, the rain came again and delayed the game one again with two outs in the fifth. After a rain delay that lasted over 30 minutes, the teams took the field, and Zalewski struck out sophomore first baseman Erika Underwood on the first pitch back to end the frame quickly.After a pair of quick and easy frames for MSU and CMU, the Chippewas put together a shot at their final act in the bottom of the seventh inning, loading the bases for Underwood to finish it off with the great dramatics.Knapp recorded the win thanks to Underwood’s bomb to end the contest, moving her to 18-8 on the season. Freshman pitcher Jordan Watson (8-5) picked up the loss, as she came in to pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning.Warren also had a nice game that was interrupted by rain throughout the game, going four innings while only allowing one run on six hits.She said she wasn't the only reason that she was able to fight through the stoppages in play today. “Basically we just got through it because (Kalina) played a great game,” Warren said. “I was missing high early in the game, and she just talked to me about the weather coming in and settled me down. She talked me through the entire game and played fantastic behind the plate.” Outside of Underwoods homer, Curtis and Kalina led the way for the Chippewa offense. They both went 3-for-4 at the plate, and both scored two runs while Kalina added a run batted in. Jonker joked before she talked about what is next for the Chippewas, and is coming up rather fast.“A weekend? We have a weekend coming up? Oh yeah, we have Ball State coming up that’s right,” Jonker said with a smile. “Obviously we know it is a huge weekend, we are both tied for first place, it’s one game at a time and we will see what happens.“The team is pumped up and we needed something likes this. I’m pumped up and excited that we are in this position.” CMU will stay here in Mount Pleasant for a monumental series against Ball State who is tied with the Chippewas atop the Mid-American Conference West division at 13-5 in conference play.“It’s a huge game, like going into the weekend the momentum could take us there and get us to score a little bit earlier,” Warren said. “We need to use the energy to power our dugout and offense to score earlier and it should be great against Ball State.”Friday will start the three-game set at 3 p.m. from Margo Jonker stadium.

Softball heads into a showdown against Ball State for a lead in the MAC West standings

(04/26/17 3:58pm)

So far this season, the Central Michigan softball team has won all six of it’s three-game sets against Mid-American Conference opponents, putting them atop the MAC West Division.Yet, this weekends competition could make or break their championship goals.Ball State (29-21 overall, 13-5 MAC) is fighting with the Chippewas (30-13, 13-5) for the regular season MAC West title, both ahead of the rest of the division by three games.“We need to focus on every pitch, and every play because they all matter,” junior utility player Sydney Heath said. “We have to work hard at practice everyday and get ourselves prepared for another big week ahead of us.”While the Cardinals don’t play anyone until they head to Mount Pleasant for the weekend series, CMU will play an in-state opponent earlier this week. It’ll be the Michigan State Spartans (25-18, 7-9 Big Ten) that will come to Margo Jonker stadium to compete against the Chippewas at 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. The Spartans come in after beating Eastern Michigan on Tuesday 13-2 in five innings. MSU has now won three of their last four games.Head coach Margo Jonker knows how big of a week this is, but wants to win every game they compete in this week.“We have made it this far, and it’s exactly where we want to be,” Jonker said. “We have a huge weekend set coming up, but we need to take care of Michigan State first. We are fortunate enough to have all of these games at home this week, it will be important that we take advantage of that.”Scouting the Spartans and Cardinals Michigan State has seven players who are hitting above a .300 batting average this season, and that charge is led by junior outfielder Lea Foerster who is hitting .389 on the year. The Portage native is also leading the squad in home runs (10) runs scored (51) and walks (20).Red-shirt junior pitcher Kristina Zalewski (3-6) is the earned run average leader for the Spartans, sitting at a 3.33 average with 56 strikeouts. Bridgette Rainey (12-7) has the most wins for MSU and has a 4.45 ERA with 111 strikeouts to lead the team.The Spartans are just 5-11 in road games this season, with their last true road win coming against Georgia State on March 9. As for the Cardinals, they come in after losing their final game of the weekend to Toledo, but won two of the three games in the series this past weekend.Toledo has a respectable 7-7 record on the road this season, and that will not change until they take on CMU this week.BSU is led by Rachel Houck and Kennedy Wynn who are both hitting .317 on the season while starting over 40 games. Houck leads the team in RBI (31), runs scored (47) and homers (11). Wynn meanwhile, has a pair of home runs and 26 RBI.Carolyn Wilmes (13-10) does most of the starting pitching for the Cardinals, starting 22 of the 30 games she has taken the circle. She has posted a 2.99 ERA with 12 complete games and 123 K’s to lead the team in both categories.What’s Trending for CMUThe Chippewas come off of another solid week, going 4-1 after a double-header sweep of Valparaiso (24-16, 11-7) this past Tuesday and then beating Northern Illinois (22-18, 10-8) two out of the three games they played against them.Junior pitcher Hanna Warren (10-5) took home the MAC West pitcher of the week after going 2-0 in the 12 innings she pitched in, striking out six batters while only allowing six hits and one run.Sophomore utility player Kayla Noch was nominated for a player of the week award in the MAC West after hitting .467 (7-for-15) this past week, with three runs knocked in and two sacrifice hits. She now has eight sacrifice hits in the season to lead the team.The Chippewas honored their 1987 softball team that was one of Jonker’s best teams in the history of the program."It is special anytime alumni come back, especially when teams were highly successful and they obviously were highly successful," Jonker said. "I'm very excited that they'll be back. A lot of them will be here and it'll be great to see them, and I think it's great for our current players to see the tradition and realize it's about more than the current team, but it's about the program.”Jonker is now in her 38th season as the head coach of CMU and is one of the winningest coaches in sports history at the University.That ’87 team is still the only team to earn a berth in the Women’s College World Series, going 37-14 and 11-1 in the MAC.

Softball's Warren takes home MAC Pitcher of the Week

(04/24/17 10:47pm)

Another pitcher from the Central Michigan softball team took home an award this week.Junior pitcher Hanna Warren was named the Mid-American Conference West division pitcher of the week for the first time this season.As CMU went 4-1 this past week, sweeping Valparaiso and taking two of the three games from Northern Illinois last weekend, Warren was responsible for two of the wins.The Canton native pitched 12 innings while posting a 0.58 earned run average with one shutout. Warren struck out a total of six batters over the two games and only allowed six total hits. Warren on the season is now 10-5 overall with a 2.50 ERA, while striking out a total of 56 opposing batters.Another CMU team member who was nominated for player of the week in the MAC was sophomore utility player Kayla Noch.Noch led the Chippewas at the plate with a .467 batting average (7-for-15) and three runs batted in. She also had two sacrifice hits, and leads CMU with eight of those on the season.The Chippewas (30-13 overall, 13-5 MAC) will return to the diamond on Wednesday at 4 p.m. to take on Michigan State at Margo Jonker stadium.

Softball splits double-header, takes series against Northern Illinois

(04/22/17 10:03pm)

Last Friday, the Central Michigan softball team earned the 2-1 win over Northern Illinois, taking the first game of the three-game set.After blowing out the Huskies 9-1 in the first game of the afternoon in five innings, the Huskies got revenge by beating CMU 2-1 in the series finale to take one game.Head coach Margo Jonker said both games had different feels to them.“It was a tale of two games, the first game we did well and played good defense,” Jonker said. “In the second game we made errors and we didn't hit, if I knew the answer to why I would tell you by now but we just need to work on it.”Ball State (29-21 overall, 13-5 Mid-American Conference) lost to Toledo earlier today, leaving the Chippewas (30-13, 13-5) in a tie for first place in the MAC West Division with the Cardinals.The Chippewas scored early in game one. Sophomore center fielder Allison Curtis earned a walk, followed up by a Maison Kalina triple on the first pitch at bat to give CMU a 1-0 lead.The Chippewas didn't stop there. Junior utility player Sydney Heath poked a single between the first and second baseman, bringing Kalina home for their second run of the afternoon.After squandering a good scoring opportunity in the second inning, CMU didn't waste time taking advantage of its next chance.After Kalina led off the inning with a double in the right field gap, sophomore second baseman Rachel Vieira hit a single back up the middle to extend CMU’s lead to 3-0.Sophomore shortstop Kayla Noch laid down a bunt for a suicide squeeze that brought home Kalina from third, and then the throw to first base hit Noch for an error and resulted in a 4-0 CMU leadThe miscues continued for NIU as sophomore third baseman Sam Schmidt bobbled the ball and let it trickle into the outfield, scoring CMU sophomore pinch runner Shanel Waters from second base. Lorimer followed with a triple off the right field wall, which scored Lewallen. CMU was blowing the doors off the Huskies, leading 6-0. Back-to-back singles from Curtis and Kalina to start the fourth inning set up Heath for her three-run homer over the right field fence to give the Chippewas a 9-0 advantage.Junior pitcher Hanna Warren (10-5) closed out the game for the mercy rule in the top of the fifth, as she cruised for most of the afternoon, but did have trouble in the fifth.With the bases loaded and just one out, Warren got a ground ball to second base for the second out, but NIU scored on the play to cut the deficit to 9-1. A ground ball to the short stop on the next at-bat ended the contest.Warren only allowed four hits in the five innings, earning the one run against her with a strikeout and a pair of walks. CMU tallied 10 hits in the first game, with Heath having the biggest afternoon. She went 2-for-3 with a walk and a home run, giving her four runs batted in and one run scored of her own. Kalina also had a solid game going 2-for-3 with a triple and a double, scoring two runs and one RBI.“I just had to make some adjustments today, because the pitcher was throwing a lot of change ups,” Heath said. “I just needed to wait on the ball and be patient, and it worked out for me today. We needed to win these games.”In game two, Knapp got the start for CMU, and she had to work out of some trouble right away.After giving up a single and a walk with two outs, Knapp got a soft ground ball hit to Lewallen at third who just stepped on the base for the force out to end the threat in the top of the first frame.CMU picked up right where it left off in the first game. The inning started with a pair of outs for NIU junior pitcher Keegan Hayes, but she then walked a pair of batters to set up Noch for a single that the outfielders bobbled. Kalina scored from second to give the Chippewas the early 1-0 lead. Starting the third inning, NIU got a couple of runners on base, resulting in a suicide squeeze bunt from first baseman Kayt Grable, scoring the runner from third and tying the game at one run a piece. After a walk to put runners on the corners, NIU stole second base, and on the throw to second, the runner at third came home to give the Huskies the 2-1 lead. Neither team had much going until the bottom of the fifth inning when junior left fielder Lacy Tolfree led the inning off with a single and got to second base with only one out. CMU, however, couldn't get her across the plate keeping the game at 2-1 heading to the sixth frame.The sixth was scoreless, leaving CMU one last chance to get a run in the seventh to potentially sweep the doubleheader. With a runner on second base, Knapp allowed a single to left field, where Tolfree picked up the ball and gunned down the runner at home plate to keep it a one run game.The Chippewas couldn't answer the bell in the bottom of the final frame however, dropping the finale of the day. Knapp picked up the loss, dropping her to 17-8 on the season, while Keegan picked up her sixth win of the year for NIU. Jonker said the team is where it needs to be right now.“This where we want to be, and we certainly can compete for this whole thing,” Jonker said. “We just have to put in the work and get ourselves in the position to win these games.”The Chippewas will welcome Michigan State to Margo Jonker Stadium at 4 p.m. Wednesday before a weekend series against Ball State in a battle of two top teams in the MAC West.