CMU softball swept by Ball State in MAC series opener

Sophomore center fielder Abbey Tolmie throws the ball on Saturday, April 30, at Margo Jonker Stadium.

Central Michigan softball traveled to Muncie, Indiana, over the weekend to open up Mid-American Conference play against Ball State. After losing its first game on Saturday, 8-4, CMU couldn't recover on Sunday, losing 2-1 and 10-2, to start conference play 0-3. 

The Chippewas move to 10-16 overall and 0-3 in conference play. 

CMU struggled on the offensive side in the series, going 16-for-78 (.205) at the plate through the three-games. 

Game 1

CMU led through 3.5 innings in its MAC opener on Saturday. However, in the bottom of the fourth, Ball State came alive, scoring four runs leading CMU to fall 8-4 against the Cardinals. 

The Chippewas got out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning after Kelsey Alexander hit a 2-run home run for her seventh home run of the season. 

In the bottom of the first, the Cardinals were threatening the Chippewas lead following a walk and double that put two runners in scoring position. However, Lehto delivered for CMU with three-straight strikeouts to leave the runners stranded. 

In the following inning Ball State was threatening again after loading the bases with one out. Cardinals’ Haley Wynn hit a shot to center field where junior center fielder Abbey Tolmie made a catch over the wall to rob the grand slam from Ball State. However, one run scored on the play to make the score 2-1. 

The Chippewas added one more run to their tally in the top of the fourth when redshirt junior pinch runner Tessa Nuss scored off of an error from the Cardinals to go up 3-1.

In the bottom of the fourth, Wynn hit a solo home run for Ball State to cut the CMU lead to one, 3-2. Two at-bats later, the Cardinals tied the game at three following an RBI double. Ball State was not done yet as McKayla Timmons hit a 2-run home run to give the Cardinals their fourth run of the inning and their first lead of the game, 5-3. 

Ball State added one more run to its lead following Wynns second home run of the day. The Cardinals delivered with another home run in the bottom of the sixth to extend the lead to five, 8-3. 

Ball State secured 12 hits and four home runs on the day.

After back-to-back hits from CMU in the top of the seventh, Hollo hit an infield single to score Tolmie and cut the deficit to four with two outs. However, the comeback was cut short following a strikeout on the next at-bat. 

Junior Grace Lehto got the start in the circle for CMU, allowing five runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and two walks in 3.2 innings pitched. 

Sophomore Madelyn Wallace came in for relief in the bottom of the fourth, allowing three runs on four hits.

Game 2 

It was a defensive battle to begin Sunday’s double header as both teams struggled to get going offensively. However, after being held scoreless for six innings, Ball State tied the game in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings where the Cardinals walked it off to win 2-1. 

Following three scoreless innings from both teams, CMU got on the board first in the top of the fourth following a throwing error from the Cardinals on a single from sophomore Allyssa Hollo that scored junior Michaleigh Vallimont to go up 1-0. 

With one final chance for Ball State in the bottom of the seventh, Cardinals’ Kaitlyn Mathews hit a solo home run with two outs to even the game at one and send it to extra innings. 

After CMU was held scoreless in the top of the eighth, Ball State was able to walk it off in the bottom half with a single to win the season series. 

Redshirt senior Kaitlyn Bean got the loss in the circle after pitching seven innings where she let up one run on six hits with five strikeouts. 

Game 3

To end the series, Ball State completed the sweep after producing 10 runs while CMU was unable to get much going on the offensive side, leading to the Cardinals winning in six with a final score of 10-2. 

After back-to-back walks in the top of the first inning, Hollo hit an RBI single, scoring Vallimont to give the Chippewas the early 1-0 lead. 

The lead didn't last long as Ball State responded in the bottom of the first with a three-run home run from Samantha-Jo Mata to take a 3-1 lead. 

Following a double from redshirt junior Skylar Coberley to open the top of the fourth, Mills singled to right field to score Coberley and cut the deficit to one, 3-2. 

However, the Cardinals shot right back in the bottom half of the inning with a double to put the lead back up to 4-2. On the next at-bat, Ball State added one more to its tally following an RBI single from Amaia Daniel to go up 5-2. 

In the bottom of the fifth, the Cardinals strung together a few hits which led to a SAC fly from Mathews to score a run. On the next play, CMU made a throwing error to score another run and push the lead to five, 7-2.  

Ball State added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth following a double and a home run to complete the run rule and defeat the Chippewas 10-2. 

Lehto registered the loss in the circle. In five innings pitched, Lehto let up seven runs on eight hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks. 

CMU will look to bounce back when it returns to Mount Pleasant for its home opener at Margo Jonker Stadium against Kent State on Tuesday at 3 p.m.