‘Proud of their fight': CMU softball wins series over NIU


Freshman catcher Carly Sleeman reaches for a pitch while freshman outfielder Katy Ramage is at bat, Friday, March 15, at Margo Jonker Stadium. (Audrey Konitsney | CM-Life)

Central Michigan softball came into Saturday’s doubleheader down 0-1 in a three-game series against Northern Illinois after losing 4-0 on Friday. 

The Chippewas swept both of the games with a consistent offensive effort after going scoreless against the Huskies in the first matchup. CMU won the first game 7-5 and the second 7-6. 

Central Michigan is now 2-1 in Mid-American Conference action and took the series against NIU in its first home-stand at Margo Jonker Stadium this season. 

“In the MAC our goal is to win every series,” head coach McCall Salmon said. “That goal is still in front of us and so we just really needed to punch back today.” 

Game 1 

The Huskies were the first to get on the scoreboard in the top of the first as junior pitcher Madelyn Wallace started the day off for the Chippewas.

Wallace gave out three walks on the day, including the first run of the game after two straight walks and a single loaded the bases, her third walk converted into a run for Northern Illinois. 

Wallace had two strikeouts on the day for the Chippewas and kept the Huskies scoreless through the second inning to give her team a chance to get on the board. 

Junior Allyssa Hollo hit a home run that rocketed through left center field to even score at one for the Chippewas with their first at bat of the second inning. 

Freshman Carly Sleeman added to the score after her first double of the day to left center batting in two of her teammates. Freshman Grace Koenig and senior Lucy Cronin each scored putting CMU up 3-1. 

“Proud of them, proud of their approaches at the plate and making adjustments and we saw you know, those adjustments be successful,” Salmon said. 

NIU answered with two runs of its own in the top of the third. Sophomore Mackenzie Langan relieved Wallace in the third inning. Langan received the win for the game with three strikeouts.

The Huskies finished the top of the third ahead 4-3. 

The Chippewas did not add anything to the board in the fourth and fifth innings. NIU scored one in the fourth with a home run by center fielder Ellis Erickson. 

CMU held the Huskies to no runs in the top of the sixth and followed up with four runs in the bottom of the sixth to secure the win on game one.  Senior Abbey Tolmie got the ball rolling for the Chippewas a double to right center field that brought in Koenig. 

Senior Michaleigh Vallimont had a sacrifice fly to right center field that batted in Tolmie. Freshman Grace Lotus singled to center field, batting in redshirt senior Skylar Coberley and Sleeman. 

Senior pitcher Grace Lehto got the save for CMU as she faced three batters in the seventh. Northern Illinois grounded out to junior shortstop Maddie Springer to end game one. 

“Just proud of their fight all over,”  Salmon said. “That’s what we’ve been waiting to see all season and glad we could put some things together today.” 

Game 2

Lehto pitched over six innings for the Chippewas in game two, holding NIU scoreless through the first three innings. 

Central Michigan started the first inning swinging for game two as it scored three runs in the bottom of the first. Sleeman doubled to right field to continue her hot streak for CMU. She had three doubles on the day for Central Michigan. 

“I see her really settling in behind the plate and it’s just exciting to see and then you know her bats very helpful too,” Salmon said. 

Coberley reached on a fielder’s choice bunt, bringing in Sleeman recording an RBI and advancing Abbey Tolmie to third base. 

Vallimont singled to left field with an RBI, Coberley advanced to second and Sleeman scored bringing the score to 3-0 going into the second inning where both teams came up scoreless. 

The Chippewas widened the score to 4-0 in the bottom of the third after freshman Keira Tolmie singled up the middle, where she advanced on a throw from NIU. This also caused Hollo to reach third and bringing in Vallimont. 

The Huskies went on to score two runs in the fourth after a home run from designated player Madison Mathews bringing in her teammate Avery Carnahan.

Central Michigan was quick to add three more runs in the bottom of the fourth to answer Mathew’s big hit. Sleeman scored on a wild pitch to add the first run of the inning for the Chippewas. 

Sophomore Bryn Elsenpeter singled through the left side recording two RBIs as Vallimont and Coberley each scored. 

“Anytime you can build momentum and have some success, you know, our mindset and our comfortability is going to continue to increase,” Salmon said. 

Coberley was the last run of the day for CMU as NIU attempted to make a comeback in the fifth inning racking up five runs. Sophomore Cierra Laska came in for the Chippewas pitching in the fifth allowing two hits and four runs. 

Lehto was able to finish the day as she came back in for the Chippewas, striking out one in the top of the sixth followed by two ground outs to finish the game and secure the win for CMU 7-6. Lehto had six strikeouts in game two against the Huskies. 

“She’s someone who is not going to back down, she’s not going to give up and she’s going to figure it out,” Salmon said. “She’s figuring it out and I’m happy for her.” 

CMU will continue at home against Detroit Mercy on Wednesday at 3 p.m.