CMU softball shutout against Ohio in game one of MAC Tournament

Head coach McCall Salmon, center, talks to players in between innings during game one of the MAC softball tournament against Ohio on Thursday, May 11 in Oxford, Ohio.

With both teams scoreless in the bottom of the sixth and two runners on base, Ohio senior Alexis Dawe hit a ground ball to second base where redshirt junior Skylar Coberley made a diving stop for the Central Michigan softball defense. The runner was called safe which led to an uproar from the CMU fans and a challenge from head coach McCall Salmon. 

After the call was upheld, the Bobcats delivered with a single to score two runs ultimately leading to the Bobcats defeating the Chippewas 2-0 on Thursday in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. 

With the loss, CMU moved to the losers bracket where it will face off against No. 4 Ball State.

It was a pitching duel between junior CMU pitcher Grace Lehto and on the other side MAC freshman pitcher of the year, Skipp Miller as both teams were held scoreless for 5.5 innings. 

Lehto received the loss in the circle to move to 14-15 on the season. In six innings pitched, she gave up two runs on four hits and secured four strikeouts. 

“Grace gave us an opportunity to win the game,” Salmon said. “Credit Ohio, they got the key hit in the key time and unfortunately, we weren't able to find it today. But I think it just continues to motivate us as we head into tomorrow. And we'll learn from this and we know it's going to be a dogfight, so we're prepared to keep fighting.” 

Miller caused trouble for the CMU offense as she pitched a shutout for the Bobcats, giving up only two hits while striking out 10 batters. 

“We don't try to do too much at the plate,” Salmon said on the offensive game plan coming into the first round. “You know, trying to say that one pitch focus and if she beats you the first time, beat her the next time. Credit to (Miller) you know, she (had) 10 strikeouts against our offense. Kudos to her, but, you know, we're gonna make adjustments and that's postseason. So we got to keep staying positive and be ready to grind tomorrow.” 

The Chippewas struggled offensively, going 2-for-24 (.083) at the plate and ended the game leaving a total of seven runners on base.

“I think we just have to execute with runners on base,” Salmon said. “Offensively having two hits on the day - all of our hitters are going to walk away, reevaluate, take a look at their at bats, and we'll make adjustments going into tomorrow. Leaving seven runners on base, we had opportunities, we just need to execute. That's the name of the game, so you got to score to win.” 

Following four and a half scoreless innings, the Bobcats threatened to strike first after a double to lead off the bottom of the fifth. However, the Chippewas defense delivered with three-straight outs to keep Ohio scoreless. 

After ending the threat in the fifth, CMU created a threat of their own, putting two runners on base. However, Miller delivered with a strikeout to head into the sixth still scoreless. 

In the bottom of the sixth, the Bobcats loaded the bases with one out following the controversial call at first base. Two at bats later, the Bobcats broke the tie when freshman Shelby Westler hit a 2-RBI single to put the Chippewas down two heading into the top of the seventh. 

CMU was unable to get anything going in top of the seventh to fall 2-0 in the first round. 

The Chippewas will face off against No. 4 Ball State in the second round of the MAC Tournament on Friday, starting at 1 p.m.