CMU softball falls to Ball State on Senior Day

Central Michigan senior pitcher Grace Lehto gets ready to throw a pitch during a game against Buffalo, Friday, April 12, in Margo Jonker Stadium. (CM-Life | Jo Kenoshmeg)

In the final game of the regular season, Central Michigan softball found itself down by five runs in its matchup against Ball State on Sunday. 

That was until senior Caitlyn Britton delivered on senior day as she secured a 2-RBI double in her first start of the 2024 season. The hit cut the Cardinals lead down to three in the bottom of the sixth. 

“(I'm) just really proud of her,” head coach McCall Salmon said. “We knew she was gonna get the opportunity today and for her to have you know, that extra base hit and our only two RBIs. (She) came through clutch for us and proud of her and how she's made her way through here these last five years.” 

However, the comeback effort came a little too late as the Chippewas fell to Ball State 5-2.

The game honored the eight seniors on the team as they played their final game at Margo Jonker Stadium. 

“They've put four and five long, hard years in (and) committed themselves to this university,” Salmon said. “And not only as athletes, but as students. Just extremely proud of them. And to allow them to compete on this field and their last weekend of regular season play, it's a special feeling, no matter the results.” 

The Chippewas will now move on to the Mid-American Conference tournament where they have secured the fifth seed. CMU ends the regular season 16-31 overall and 13-12 in conference play. 

“Mentality is to survive and advance,” Salmon said. “We know you got six MAC opponents and everyone in the MAC’s great, so we got to be prepared to take it one pitch at a time mentality, surrender the outcome and just really go out there have fun, give our best every single pitch.” 

The Cardinals also secured their spot in the tournament with the victory as it was a win or go home situation for BSU coming into the matchup. 

Ball State got out to the early lead in the first inning as it completed four hits resulting in two runs. 

The Cardinals didn’t stop there as they secured three more runs in the bottom of the third off of a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly. The inning was capped off with a solo home run from designated player Jessica Hoffman to put BSU up 5-0. 

Looking for a spark, freshman catcher Carly Sleeman stepped up in the bottom of the fourth with a lead off double. The Chippewas couldn’t capitalize on the good start to the inning as they were held scoreless.  

After five scoreless innings, CMU got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when Britton hit a 2-RBI double to cut the deficit to 5-2. 

With one more attempt in the seventh, Central Michigan couldn’t get anything going in the inning to give the Cardinals the win. 

The Chippewas head to Akron, Ohio to compete in the MAC tournament where they will start on Wednesday to face off against No. 4 Toledo at noon.