Mount Pleasant, Mich.- Central Michigan Softball dropped a heartbreaker in 11 innings against Kent State, 5-4. Macy Merchant tied the program record with five hits, going 5-for-6 at the plate.
The Chippewas (18-12, 4-2 MAC) trailed the Golden Flashes (15-13, 5-2 MAC) 4-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Central Michigan opened the inning with back-to-back walks to bring Merchant to the plate. She hit her fourth single of the game to score junior Raechel Zahrn from second. Senior Summer Knoop laid down a sac-bunt to advance he runners, and then junior Cory DeLamielleure walked to load the bases with one out. Sophomore CarolAnn Sexauer hit a sac-fly to center field to score two runners, tying the game at 4-4.
The Chippewas had a chance to put the game away in the bottom of the eighth with bases loaded and one out. Merchant hit into a fielder’s choice as freshman Taylor Water’s was thrown out at home plate, and then was followed by a strikeout by Knoop.
Kent State broke the tie in the top of the 11th inning due to an error in left field. Michele Duffy opened the inning with a single to left, but was thrown out on a fielder’s choice at second. Lauren Kesterson stole second to reach scoring position, and came home on a fly ball to left field that was misplayed, putting Kent State up 5-4.
Emma Johnson, who came in as relief in the seventh inning, held the Central Michigan scoreless in five innings of work. She forced two fly-outs and a groundout to close the game.
The Flashes jumped on the scoreboard early with a homerun by the leadoff hitter, Kim Kirkpatrick, in the top of the first inning.
The Chippewas came back though with a run in the bottom of the second to tie the game 1-1. With two outs and sophomore Trista Cox on first base after being hit by a pitch, junior Brittney Horan singled to bring sophomore Lauren Smith to the plate. Smith knocked a single up the middle to bring Cox home, but Horan was thrown out trying to stretch out to third base to end the inning.
Kent State broke the 1-1 tie in the top of the third though on an error in left field. With the bases loaded and two outs, Lauren Grimes hit a fly-ball into left field that was mishandled, bringing around two runs.
The Flashes built on their 3-1 lead in the fourth with another run. Erika Warren reached base on another error by the Central Michigan defense, and struck out at the next two at-bats. Kirkpatrick singled to left field to advance the runner, and bases were loaded when a pitch from junior Chelsea Sundberg hit Ramos. Sundberg walked the next batter to bring one run in to score, putting Kent State up 4-1.
Merchant led Central Michigan with five hits and an RBI. She hit .625 against Kent State in the series. Smith finished 1-3 at the plate with an RBI. Sundberg started the game in the circle, pitching 3.2 innings, giving up one earned run and striking out five batters. Senior Kara Dornbos pitched 7.1 innings, giving up four hits and one run.
Kirkpatrick finished with two hits and an RBI for Kent State. Ramos went 1-5 at the plate with an RBI. Lauren McNeil started for the Flashes, striking out four batters in six innings. Emma Johnson struck out five batters and gave up five hits.
The Chippewas finished the week 5-1, with three Mid-American Conference victories. Central Michigan will travel to Michigan State on Tuesday, April 9. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. The Chippewas defeated the Spartans on March 16, 3-0, in Bloomington, Ind.