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CMU escapes possible no hitter with 1-0 victory over Toledo

(04/14/17 9:43pm)

Toledo’s sophomore pitcher Heather Webb went eight innings without allowing a hit to the Central Michigan softball team.It still wasn't enough to beat senior pitcher Rachael Knapp and the Chippewas.Sophomore center fielder Allison Curtis hit a clutch double in the left field gap to win the game for CMU in nine innings of play.Knapp earned her 16th win of the season, going the complete nine innings without allowing a run and only four hits. Knapp also stuck out eight Rocket batters to total 203 K’s on the season.Head coach Margo Jonker said that she wasn't totally satisfied with the teams efforts, but it was enough.“I was very proud of Knapp and the way she pitched throughout the entire afternoon, and our defense for making the plays behind her,” Jonker said. “However, I was disappointed with how the offense preformed today, we have to be better than that. Luckily, one big hit was enough to win the game today."Ball State (26-19 overall, 10-3 Mid-American Conference) beat Eastern Michigan 8-0 today, keeping them tied with CMU (25-11, 10-3) atop the MAC West division standings.The win gave CMU their sixth victory in their last seven contests.In the first couple of innings neither team was able to get much going on offense, with both squads going hitless and only managing a pair of base runners with walks.In the bottom half of the third frame, the Rockets had the first real threat of the game, getting a pair of singles to pot runners on first and second with two outs.However, Knapp was able to get a line out that was hit right at sophomore first baseman Erika Underwood that she snagged with a snow cone catch, ending the threat.After that, no one could get anything going on offense, as Knapp and Webb continued to dominate in the circle throughout the day.The Rockets had a small threat in the bottom of the seventh inning, getting a runner on second base with two outs, but freshman outfielder Maddie Emery who was called upon to pinch hit flew out to end the frame and send the contest into extra innings.In the ninth inning, CMU finally broke through Webb’s dominance with a single from junior right fielder Lacy Tolfree, who proceeded to steal second base, setting up Curtis for the dramatics. Curtis got the game winning double, and Knapp shut down the Rockets in the bottom of the ninth to win the game.Jonker said she was extremely impressed with how Knapp preformed today, but it isn't unusual.“(Knapp) has been doing this all season long, this wasn't even her longest outing of the season,” Jonker said. “It was difficult though, knowing the other pitcher had a no-hitter going and she still found a way to get through the game without allowing anything. Im very proud of her for today.”CMU will return to the same setting tomorrow to take on Toledo once again, but this time it will be a double-header. The first pitch is set for 1 p.m. in Ohio.

Softball sweeps rival Western Michigan in doubleheader, keeps pace in MAC West

(04/04/17 10:21pm)

After a couple of rain delays before the start of the first game, the Central Michigan softball team was eventually able to play a doubleheader against Western Michigan this afternoon in Kalamazoo.When the rain lightened up, CMU came back with heavy showers of offense.The Chippewas used a little bit of offense and pitching to earn the sweep of their rival on Tuesday afternoon, winning game one 9-0 in five innings and game two 1-0. CMU hit three home runs to lead their offense charge of 10 total runs for the day.Senior pitcher Rachael Knapp and junior pitcher Hanna Warren combined to allow zero runs, nine hits, and six strikeouts in both games to hold down the WMU hitters.Head coach Margo Jonker said that the results the team got today didn't come easy“Western (Michigan) is a very good team, I know their record may not reflect that, but they looked really good at times earlier this season,” Jonker said. “We are very fortunate to get a couple of wins today, Rachael (Knapp) and Hanna (Warren) did a great job holding their offense down.”The Chippewas (21-10 overall, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) remain in second place behind Ball State, who swept Northern Illinois in a double-header on Tuesday. CMU is now alone is second place in the MAC West.In the first game, CMU attacked the Broncos early and it was too much for WMU to overcome. After a scoreless first inning, the Chippewa bats woke up in the top of the second inning, and the WMU’s never did.A couple of hits led off the inning, senior catcher Danielle Marlink started the scoring with a single back up the middle to get the first run batted in of the game. That was followed up with another RBI single from sophomore center fielder Allison Curtis, giving CMU the 2-0 advantage.It was then junior catcher Maison Kalina who hit singled to deep center, scoring two runs, which gave the Chippewas some breathing room with a 4-0 lead.They didn't let off the gas pedal.Sophomore first baseman Erika Underwood hit a bloop single, scoring another run, before the flood gates officially opened.Utility infielder Rachel Vieira hit a 3-run home run, her third big fly of the season, to give the Chippewas a comfortable 8-0 lead.CMU tacked on one more run in the third inning, and the game was called after 5 innings of play with the mercy rule in effect. Knapp continued her dominance, pitching all five innings while allowing just one hit and struck out four batters. Knapp picked up her 12th win and has a 1.52 earned run average on the season.In game two, it was the pitching that took over for both teams in a tightly contested game until the finish.It was sophomore pitcher Jordan Kurth for WMU and junior pitcher Hanna Warren for the Chippewas in the circle, and they battled back and fourth all game long, allowing a low amount of hits.CMU struck first in the second inning thanks to a bomb from Underwood that carried out over the left field wall, giving CMU the 1-0 advantage.It turned out to be all the Chippewas would need to get the victory, thanks to the performance of Warren.Warren went 6.2 innings, when the Broncos showed a final sign of life, getting runners on the corners with two outs.Jonker elected to go with Knapp to get the last out, and it turned out to be the right decision, as she got a harmless pop out to finish the game.Warren improved to 7-4 on the season, striking out two batters and only allowing six hits for the game. Knapp got her second save of the season by getting the final out. Jonker said it was her decision to make the change late in the game.“I made the decision because it just seemed like a better matchup and obviously we didn't have a lot of room for error,” Jonker said. “Hanna gave us everything she had, and it was just the a better match up to me to have Knapp finish the game with the timing of the at-bat.”CMU will stay on the road for their next contest against Akron. The game will be on Friday at 3 p.m. from Lee R. Jackson field. “Akron is a completely different team that who we played against today here in Western Michigan,” Jonker said. “They play with a lot of speed in all different kind of areas, so we need to come to the field ready for a fight.”

Softball begins five-game road trip with Western Michigan

(04/04/17 2:47pm)

While the Central Michigan softball team was having lots of success over the past couple of weeks winning a majority of their games, the team has had a sudden tough stretch.Following a nine game winning streak, CMU has now lost three of their last five games, finishing the eight-game home stand with a 5-3 record.Despite the recent losses, CMU (19-10 overall, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) is tied with Ball State for second place in the MAC West, just one game back from the first place Northern Illinois Huskies.As head coach Margo Jonker said, she doesn't see the recent losses setting this team back very much.“I don’t have to be worried about this team when it comes to being ready for the next game, they want to play,” Jonker said. “We’ve got a lot of players who have been here for awhile and have been through rough stretches. It hasn't stopped them before, it can imagine it stopping them now.”CMU splits last weekLast Tuesday began the final four games of the Chippewas home stand when they took on the at the time No. 20 Michigan Wolverines.It was a high anticipated pitching duel between a pair of seniors who are the ace’s for their staffs: Rachael Knapp and Megan Besta.At the end of the day, Besta was just too much to handle for the Chippewa hitters. The McDonough, Georgia native only allowed one hit and struck out nine batters in part of a 2-0 Michigan victory.Knapp also had respectable performance, only allowing five hits and two runs while striking out a pair of batters in the losing effort.“I just take it one step at a time, one batter at a time, one pitch at a time,” she said. “I try to play the game normal and not play against who the uniform is that is facing us.” The big hits in the game came from Michigan senior Kelly Christner, who hit a home run to left-center field and singled to drive in both runs of the game for the Wolverines. Following a few days off for the Chippewas and a weather delay for Friday’s game, CMU resumed action on Saturday for double-header against Kent State. CMU swept the two game set, winning the first game 1-0 and the second game 9-2.In the first game, it was a pitching duel once again that involved Knapp and Kent State’s senior pitcher Ronnie Ladines that lasted 11 innings. Knapp got the best of the two, earning her 11th win for the season. The senior only allowed seven hits and struck out 13 batters.Junior catcher Maison Kalina had the walk-off single for the Chippewas in the bottom of the 11th inning to earn the win. Allison Curtis had three of the teams six hits on the afternoon.In the second game, it was CMU dominating from start to finish, racking up eight runs in the first four innings.It was junior pitcher Hannah Warren that was credited with her sixth win of the year, while striking out eight Golden Flashes and only allowing two hits. Sunday in the weekend series finale, it was Ladines and Knapp again, but this time it was Kent State who got the win.Two late costly walks from Knapp (who only allowed three hits for the entire game) allowed Kent State’s sophomore left fielder Bailey Brownfield to hit a double up the gap and score two runs, which gave the Golden Flashes all they needed in a 3-2 win.The loss dropped Knapp to 11-6 overall this season and improved Ladines to 5-11.Back on the RoadThe Chippewas will now head out on the road for five-straight games, starting with a trip to Kalamazoo to take on their rival Western Michigan.The Broncos (13-17, 1-5) come in as losers in six of their last seven games, with their most recent results coming in a split of a double-header against Ohio on Saturday.Jonker said no matter what the situation is against Western Michigan, they always get the same results.“Western (Michigan) is a tough team (because) they usually hit the ball really well,” Jonker said. “They are struggling a bit right now, but I saw them over spring break sometimes rocket the ball and other times they didn't know where it was at, so we anticipate some tough games, hopefully the nice weather holds up.”WMU’s pitching staff is led by sophomore pitcher Jordan Kurth and junior pitcher Holly VanTilburg. Kurth (6-11) leads the team in wins and innings pitched, tossing 87 innings over 19 games. VanTilburg (3-1) on the other hand leads the team in earned run average (2.59) with Kurth right behind her (2.73) in that category.At the dish, the Broncos are led by Kelsea Cichocki who leads the team in batting average (.489) RBIs (34) and games started (30).CMU will then head to Akron, Ohio where they will take on the Zips in a three-game weekend set.Akron (14-18, 3-3) is currently on a two-game winning streak, but has lost four of their last six games. The Zips will have a double-header against Buffalo on Tuesday before playing the Chippewas.Doing most of the pitching for the Zips is freshman Lexie Handley who has tossed 126.1 innings this year in 26 appearances in the circle. The Mogadore, Ohio native has an 11-10 record with a 2.72 ERA while tallying 112 strikeouts.Hitting wise, Akron is led by Ashley Sims who has 35 hits in 90 chances at the plate this season (.444 average.) which leads the team. She also is the top in stolen bases with 31 on the year. Senior right fielder Evelyn Lorimer said the team just needs to improve in a few areas as they head back on the road.“We are going to work on hitting a little bit and we will work on defense and sharpen a couple things up,” Lorimer said. “I have no doubts going to Western, they are one of our rivals obviously, so we are going to pick ourselves up and be ready for a fight Tuesday.”