Northern Illinois 6, Ball State 4
MUNCIE, Ind. - The Northern University softball team completed its series sweep over Ball State with a 6-4 victory Sunday afternoon at the BSU Softball Complex.
Trailing 4-3 heading into the top of the seventh, NIU (26-25, 13-7) took the lead on a three-run home run by freshman Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa). The first two Huskies reached when Carly Norton (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) reached after getting hit by pitch, and Amanda Sheppard (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) singled up the middle. Two batters later, Miller came to the plate and deposited the Audra Sanders pitch over the left field fence to give Northern Illinois a two-run lead.
"It was a hard-fought game," said NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard. "Ball State did a great job coming back, running the bases hard. Shelby came up big for us in the last inning. Everyone contributed today. Everybody was a part of this big for us. We couldn't be more excited going in the tournament."
Morgan Bittner (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach) shut down the Cardinals (33-22, 12-8) in the seventh to record her 10th win of the season. Bittner went seven innings, allowing four runs, three earned. With the win, NIU moves into second place in the Mid-American Conference West Division.
"It's great having Morgan back," Chouinard said. "She gave us a gutsy performance today. Hopefully we can ride that going into the MAC Tournament"
Northern Illinois jumped out to a 2-0 lead with two runs in the first inning. However, Ball State tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the second. An RBI double by Gianna Cipollone (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente) in the top of the third allowed the Huskies to retake the lead, but it was short lived as the Cardinals responded with a run in the bottom of the frame to tie the game at 3-3.
The Cardinals took a 4-3 advantage with a run in the bottom of the sixth. It was their only lead of the game.
Miller went 1-for-1 on the day with three RBI, while Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif./Lincoln) led the Huskies with a 3-for-5 day with a run scored. Adriana Sanchez (San Fernando, Calif./Alemany), Sheppard and Cipollone each collected an RBI on the day as well.
The 2011 MAC Softball Tournament begins Wednesday, May 11 at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio. First pitch for Game One is set for 11 a.m.
Miami 2, Western Michigan 1
OXFORD, Ohio - A walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh by Daniela Torres led Miami to a 2-1 victory over Western Michigan on Senior Day Sunday. The RedHawks finish the regular season 30-20 overall and 13-9 in the Mid-American Conference. The Broncos are 20-27 overall and 14-6 in the MAC.
The MAC race ended as one of the tightest in recent memory with the top seven seeds all within two games of each other. Miami just missed out on the East Division championship, as Ohio's 12-8 (.600) record is a slightly better winning percentage than the RedHawks 13-9 (.591) record. As it turns out, Miami earned the seventh seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament and will face the second seeded Bobcats on Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the first round of the double elimination tournament.
Junior pitcher Jessica Simpson concluded the regular season by making history yet again. She pitched a complete game, allowing only one earned run on seven hits to improve her record to 25-13. With her 25th win, Simpson ties Miami Hall-of-Famer Kristy Burch for the single-season wins record. Burch set her record in 1990.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning. Jordan McElroy led off the frame with a double to center field. With one out, Kristy Arbour moved her over to third base with a single to left center. A deep sacrifice fly out by Torres would allow McElroy to come home and score the game's first run.
Western Michigan tied the score at one with a run in the top of the sixth inning. In the bottom of the seventh, McElroy led off with a single up the middle. The next two batters recorded outs, but Arbour's groundout moved McElroy over to second. Torres finished the game by singling straight up the middle to allow McElroy to come home with the game-winning run.
Torres finished the game 1-for-3 with two RBI. McElroy was 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
The MAC Tournament takes place Wednesday through Saturday at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio. It is a double elimination format with Miami taking on either Northern Illinois or Central Michigan in its second game on Thursday. The time of the game will depend on the result of the first game against Ohio.
Buffalo 2, Central Michigan 1
MOUNT PLEASANT - Central Michigan closed its regular season with a 2-1 loss to Buffalo on Sunday afternoon, finishing 13-9 in Mid-American Conference play.
The Chippewas (29-19, 13-9 MAC) fell behind 1-0 in the top of the first after Ashley Bertot and Kristin Waldron hit back-to-back singles, pulled off a double steal and each advanced on a past ball.
Senior Brittini Merchant, who was playing her final game at Margo Jonker Stadium, tied the game back up in the bottom half of the inning, driving a 3-2 pitch to centerfield to score Macy Merchant from second.
Neither team would push another run across the board over the next four frames, as CMU's Kara Dornbos and Buffalo's Holly Johnson continued to duel, stifling opposing offenses.
Back-to-back hits once again gave the Bulls (12-35, 7-13 MAC) the lead in the top of the sixth however, as Waldron singled to left field and scored on a Alex Bejarno double to left field for the 2-1 score.
CMU pushed the tying run to second in the bottom of the seventh, looking to earn its second walk-off win of the weekend, but Johnson, who gave up just two Chippewa hits in the game, struck out Amanda Patrick to seal the victory.
Dornbos suffered the loss, despite giving up giving up just two runs (one earned) on six hits. Johnson, who came on in relief after Tori Speckman faced just one CMU batter, tossed 6 2/3 innings of one hit ball, while walking six and striking out three.
The Chippewas now head to Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio for the MAC Tournament as the No. 6 seed. They will face No. 3 seed Northern Illinois in first-round action.
Eastern Michigan 4, Kent State 3
YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) - Stacie Skodinski (South Bend, Ind.-Washington) made the most of her final game at Varsity Field as she drove in the winning run in Eastern Michigan University softball's 4-3 come-from-behind victory on Senior Day this afternoon, May 8, to close out the regular season.
The win gives the Eagles a 26-16 mark on the year and a 12-8 record in the Mid-American Conference, while Kent State drops to 19-28 overall (9-10 MAC).
Lauren Wells (Lowell, Ind.-Lowell) is credited with the win to improve to 9-4 on the season. Jaclyn Caro (Chino, Calif.-St. Lucy's Priory) got the start and threw four solid innings, striking out four KSU hitters.
Six different Eagles tallied hits on the afternoon, but it would be Skodinski's single in the bottom of the seventh that would provide the late inning heroics that sealed the Green and White victory.
Kent State struck first in the contest as they continued to use the long ball against the EMU pitching staff in the team's second meeting of the weekend. KSU's Jessica Carmichael would give the Golden Flashes an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first with a solo shot over the right center field fence.
The Eagles scrapped together a pair of hits in the bottom of the second, as McKenna Russ (North Canton, Ohio-Hoover) and Kayla Kostich (Taylor, Mich.-Cabrini) notched back-to-back singles to give the home team runners at first and second.
Allison Scherer (Stow, Ohio-Stow-Munroe) drove a fly ball to right field in the following at bat, but it lacked the distance to advance Russ over to third base, and a groundout ended the inning to strand two runners on base.
In the top of the third, KSU increased its lead to two on two walks and an RBI single by Carmichael through the right side.
After Lindsay Smith (Seville, Ohio-Cloverleaf) and Jessica Richards (North Canton, Ohio-Hoover) singled to start the bottom of the third, the Golden Flashes swapped in Lauren McNeil for starter Markie Pozzuto in the circle.
Skodinski brought in the Eagles' first run with a deep fly ball to center field, allowing Smith to tag up and score from third base.
With two outs, Gerber singled up the middle on a ball that took a high bounce over the KSU pitcher to plate the tying run and knot the score at two runs apiece.
Jamie Melchert (Scottsville, Mich.-Mason County Central) looked impressive in her season debut in the fifth, striking out one and forcing two ground ball outs for a quick one-two-three inning. The senior would go on to retire three straight in the sixth, but would hand over the reins to freshman Lauren Wells in the seventh after KSU's Jessica Blanton connected on a double down the left field line.
The Golden Flashes then hit their second consecutive double reclaim the lead, but the Eagles would respond loudly in the bottom of the seventh.
Scherer was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame, and Lauren Delapaz (Plymouth, Mich.-Canton) beat out a bunt to give the Eagles runners at first and second with no outs. Courtney Nicholson (Navarre, Ohio-Central Canton Catholic) checked into the lineup to lay down a textbook bunt, moving runners to second and third with one out. Richards drove in a run with a sac fly to left field to tie it up, bringing Skodinski to the plate with two outs and a runner at third.
Appropriately enough, the senior stepped up for her team on senior day as she drove in the winning run on a ball hit through the left side to complete the Eagles' come-from-behind, 4-3 victory here at Varsity Field.
EMU will continue play in post season action on May 11 at the 2011 Mid-American Conference Tournament at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio. The trip ends a three-year drought of missing out on the tournament, as the Eagles have not made an appearance since winning it in the 2007 season. Radio and live stats will be available during the MAC Tournament on both EMU All-Access and EMUEagles.com.
Ohio 7, Toledo 0
TOLEDO, Ohio - The Ohio University softball team clinched the 2011 Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division Title on Sunday after a 7-0 win over Toledo at Scott Park. The win gives the Bobcats the second overall seed in the upcoming conference tournament, which is set to take place at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio from May 11-14.
Senior pitcher Emily Wethington (New Palestine, Ind.) pitched a one-hit shutout to earn her 18th win of the season. From the end of the first through the sixth innings, Wethington retired 14 batters in a row. She struck out six batters and walked two. During the two-game set with the Rockets, Wethington did not allow a run and surrendered just three hits.
Offensively, junior Alexis Joseph (Alvin, Texas) and senior Melissa Bonner (Kings Mills, Ohio) each had two hits and two RBIs in the game, while junior Jillian Van Wagnen scored two runs and stole three bases in the game. As a team, Ohio (23-21, 12-8 MAC) pounded out 11 hits and eight of the nine starters tallied a hit.
The Bobcats totaled six runs on five hits in the fifth inning to gain a 6-0 advantage on Toledo (8-43, 3-18 MAC).The first six batters reached base. Freshman Raven King (Alpine, Utah) started the frame with a leadoff home run to left field. During the frame, Joseph knocked a two-RBI single up the middle, while Bonner, Wethington and sophomore Lauren Gellerman (San Diego, Calif.) each tallied an RBI in the inning.
Van Wagnen tacked on an insurance run in the sixth on an RBI single by Bonner. Van Wagnen stole second and third base during the inning to get herself in position to score during Bonner's plate appearance.
With the win, the Bobcats tallied 12 conference wins this season, which ties the output from 2009 and 2004. It also marks the sixth straight season that Ohio will compete in the MAC Tournament. The Bobcats have qualified each year since 2006. Ohio has won one MAC Tournament Championship in 1995.
Ohio will play its first round game in the MAC Tournament on Wednesday, May 11 at 5 p.m. The Bobcats will take on the seventh-seeded team in the eight-team field.