CMU softball advances in MAC tournament

Photo Courtesy of CMU Athletics

The Central Michigan softball team holds on day one of the Mid-American Conference tournament. Coming in with the No.5 seed, the Chippewas opened to fourth-ranked Toledo. They would then go on to play third-ranked rivals, Western Michigan in game two.

Game 1

As the sun shined bright over Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio, CMU opened strong, holding off the Toledo offense in the first inning. 

As the game progressed into the second inning, tensions heightened. Senior Michaleigh Vallimont's single hinted at a breakthrough for the Chippewas, but it was not to be as Koenig hit a flyout. Later, freshman Emma Lotus hit into a double play, stifling their offensive efforts.

After hitting three outs, Toledo found their rhythm in the bottom of the second scoring four runs on five hits.

The later innings saw both teams fighting for run opportunities, with Central Michigan's defense remaining strong against Toledo. But it was in the top of the fourth inning that Central Michigan found their breakthrough. 

Redshirt senior Skylar Coberley's single, coupled with an error by Toledo's left fielder, allowed her to score. Another opportunity came in the top of the sixth, as junior Allyssa Hollo homered to cut the deficit to two.  

As the game began to wind down, both teams held each other defensively, eliminating any opportunities for runs. In the end, despite CMU’s late momentum, the Chippewas fell 6-3, sending them to an elimination game against the Broncos.

Game 2

After facing a loss just hours earlier, CMU attempted to hold onto its spot in the MAC tournament as it faced No.3 Western Michigan. The Broncos fell No.6 Ball State 6-0 to open up their tournament play. 

“As we entered game two, we knew we had to survive and advance,” head coach McCall Salmon said. “(We had to) just take care of business and focus on that.”

In the top of the first inning, Central Michigan's bats were swinging, but they failed to send any runners home. Although there was a quiet start for the Chippewa offense, they held Western’s offense to a standstill. 

In the second inning, CMU continued its inability to make runs as the Broncos' defense shut them down. Western took advantage of their turn at bat, scoring a run in the bottom of the second inning. 

Central Michigan's defense tightened up, preventing further runs, but found themselves trailing early in the game.

In the top of the fourth inning, Central Michigan's offense came alive after a towering home run from Hollo brought in two runs, swinging the momentum in their favor. For the first time in the tournament, the Chippewas took the lead, 2-1.

“I think Allyssa Hollo offensively really provided sparks for us in both games,” Salmon said. “Looking forward to being able to play softball again tomorrow.”

In the top of the fifth, senior Abbey Tolmie singled up the middle and eventually advanced to second off the throw. Sophomore Angela Petrovitch was able to slide home off an RBI. Another opportunity came when freshman Carly Sleeman singled up the middle, sending Tolmie home for a 4-1 lead.

The game remained tight as Western scored two runs in the fifth, keeping the score 4-3. In the final innings, the Chippewas were unable to score any more runs and relied on their defense to shut the Broncos out.

In the end, CMU came out on top, keeping their MAC tournament hopes alive. They will advance to play an undetermined team on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

“You don’t have to keep (the team) locked in,” Salmon said. “I think at this point, now is the time to know what job you have to get done, and I think they’re up for the task. We’re used to pivoting and handling whatever scenario or situation is handed to us so we’re just going to work it through and see what happens tomorrow.”