CMU softball takes series finale over Miami (OH)

Central Michigan's junior infielder Maddie Springer, left, waits for a throw to tag out Miami's Allie Cummins, right, during a doubleheader, Saturday, April 20 at Margo Jonker Stadium. The tag wasn't placed in time, and Cummins was called safe at second. (Marie Underwood | CM-Life)

With two outs and the bases loaded Sunday, freshman catcher Carly Sleeman hit a grand slam over the fence out to left field, advancing Central Michigan’s softball’s lead against Miami (OH) to 6-1.

The RedHawks came into the matchup with the series clinched, the top seed in the Mid-American Conference and a 23-game win streak on their resume.

Central Michigan held onto the lead after the first inning to secure the 9-5 win, snapping Miami’s win streak and adding the first loss to Miami’s MAC schedule.

“As a program we’re known for the second time we see pitchers making some adjustments,” head coach McCall Salmon said. “I thought that showed today. I thought Allyssa Hollo and Michaleigh Vallimont maybe haven’t done as well offensively as they would like, but they really just both settled in and stuck to the process this weekend, and a lot of great things happened for them.”

Miami (OH) was the first to get on the board in the top of the first inning, with a double to center field. However, senior pitcher Grace Lehto was able to get two strikeouts early and only allow one RedHawk run.

Lehto struck out seven, pitching all seven innings and accumulated 141 pitches.

“We know how good of a team they are offensively, but I also thought we did some things well (Saturday) that we could carry into (Sunday),” Salmon said. “Just loved their approach from the first inning, getting on board.”

Central Michigan was quick to respond in the bottom of the first. Senior center fielder Abbey Tolmie walked in the first at bat of the day. Freshman designated hitter Keira Tolmie doubled to right field in the next at bat and was able to advance to third and bring in Abbey Tolmie from an error by Miami.

Junior Allyssa Hollo grounded up the middle, bringing in Keira Tolmie and giving the Chippewas the early 2-1 lead.

“Every MAC win you get (is) extremely important, as our focus is set on making the MAC tournament,” Salmon said.

CMU heated things up on both sides of the ball in the second inning, when Sleeman hit a grand slam in the bottom of the second to extend the lead to five. 

Both teams added a run in the third inning. Senior right fielder Michaleigh Vallimont singled up the middle to bring in sophomore pinch runner Angela Petrovich, maintaining CMU's 7-2 lead.

The Chippewas scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth to continue their strong offensive performance. Both Sleeman and Abbey Tolmie scored from an error to lengthen the lead, 9-2.

Despite a two-run home run effort by Miami in the top of the seventh, Allyssa Hollo secured the win for the Chippewas with a ground out from Miami to first base.

Central Michigan improves to 13-26 overall and 10-7 in conference play. It travels to South Bend, Indiana, Tuesday to face Notre Dame at 3 p.m.