‘What the season has meant to me is everything’: CMU softball falls to Ohio in MAC Tournament to end season

Central Michigan's softball team huddles before game five of the MAC softball tournament against Ohio on Friday, May 12 in Oxford, Ohio.

As Ohio junior Tori O’Brien was rounding home to score in the bottom of the fifth inning of the Mid-American Conference semi-finals, she was caught in a run-down where Central Michigan softball originally tagged her out. 

However, after reviewing the play the officiating crew changed the call to obstruction which reversed the call to give Ohio the run and the 3-2 lead causing an uproar from CMU fans. 

The play altered the momentum as Ohio erupted for four runs in the sixth to give the Bobcats the 7-2 victory and end the Chippewas season.  

“Unfortunately, yes, we lost today but in the grand scheme of things, (they're) all walking away from here as young women who have grown and worn the jersey to the standard that Central Michigan Softball is,” head coach McCall Salmon said. 

After the game, Salmon was emotional talking about how much this season has meant to her. 

“What the season has meant to me is everything,” head coach McCall Salmon said as she started to cry. “I don't think people realize how much work goes into this and how hard they work. I’m just gonna miss spending every day with them.” 

Junior pitcher Grace Lehto registered the loss in the circle, pitching five innings and allowing three runs and seven hits with three strikeouts and four walks. 

In her final game as a Chippewa, senior third baseman Emily Bracamonte went 2-for-2 at the plate with two singles and two walks.    

Bracamonte is one of the five seniors that will be leaving the Chippewas along with Samantha Mills, Kelsey Alexander, Peighton Root, and Kaitlyn Bean.

“They committed five years and four years to a program and bought into our system and what we were trying to do,” Salmon said. “Just having their buy-in and having their trust and developing that love for each other.

“Those are some of things as coaches that you want to develop ... so they can go out and be successful in the workforce. And there's no doubt that I know that these five are gonna do great things now that their seasons have finished and their careers have finished at Central Michigan.”

CMU junior center fielder Abbey Tolmie went 3-for-4 coming out of the lead off spot with two singles and a double. 

The Chippewas threatened early in the top of the first inning after loading the bases with no outs. However, CMU wasn’t able to add any runs to its tally as the Bobcats came up with three-straight outs. 

After the stop on defense, Ohio took the early 1-0 lead over the Chippewas in the bottom of the first when junior Emma Hoffner singled to right field to score freshman Belle Hummel. 

In the top of the third, sophomore first baseman Allyssa Hollo continued her performance from earlier in the day and grabbed the momentum back for CMU with a home run to center field to score two runs for the Chippewas and give them the 2-1 lead. 

In the two games on Friday, Hollo led on the offensive effort with a total of five RBIs. 

The Bobcats responded in the bottom of the third when freshman Shelby Westler delivered an RBI base hit to tie the game at two. 

In the bottom of the fifth, Ohio took the 3-2 lead on the controversial call of obstruction at the plate. 

Following the shift in momentum, Ohio added four insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth after an RBI single, a two-run triple and a sacrifice fly from the Bobcats offense to extend the lead to 7-2.

After walks to Hollo and Bracamonte, the Chippewas couldn’t get anything going in the top of the seventh to lose in the semi-final and end their season. 

CMU ended the season 29-26 overall and 18-11 in conference play. The Chippewas ended third in regular season MAC play and also at one point in the season had an 11-game win streak. 

“Overall, this whole season, you know, you put in the effort every single day, you work to get 1% better, and I saw that with Team 45,” Salmon said. “And I saw their growth and (I’m) really proud of the legacy our seniors have left.”