AKRON, Ohio – Trista Cox blasted a two-run walk-off homerun in extra innings to lead Central Michigan Softball to a Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship for the 10th time in program history as CMU downed Northern Illinois 4-2 in 11 innings.
This is head coach Margo Jonker's 1,100 career victory. She has lead CMU for all 10 MAC Tournament titles in program history.
Kara Dornbos, Macy Merchant, Cory DeLamielleure and CarolAnn Sexauer were named to the MAC All-Tournament team. Dornbos was awarded tournament MVP honors.
Cox finsiehd the game 2-5 at the plate for Central Michigan (33-18, 18-7 MAC). Senior Brogan Darwin went 3-4 with an RBI and a run. Sexauer had an RBI and two hits. Dornbos pitched 5.1 innings, giving up one run and striking out three batters. Junior Chelsea Sundberg closed the final 5.2 innings, striking out five batters.
Nicole Gremillion led the Huskies (28-30, 17-10 MAC) with two hits and an RBI. Ashley Kopp finished 1-4 with an RBI. Jennifer Barnett recorded two hits. Jessica Sturm pitched 6.1 innings, giving up five hits and two runs. Emily Norton came in for the final four innings, surrendering the final two runs.
Central Michigan opened the bottom of the 11th with a lead off single by Darwin. DeLamielleure moved her to second with a bunt, bringing Cox to the plate with one out. Cox took the first pitch over the left field wall for her fourth homer of the season.
Bryanna Phelan opened the top of the first with a walk. Amanda Sheppard advanced the runner on a bunt and beat the throw to first, putting two on with no out. Dornbos earned her first strikeout of the game, catching Gremillion looking. She threw her second consecutive strikeout, getting Barnet swinging. Miller stranded the runners, ending the inning on a pop up to Cox at third base.
In the bottom of the first, Merchant reached on a Huskie error to bring junior Raechel Zahrn to the plate. On ball three to Zahrn, Merchant stole her second base of the tournament. Zahrn and junior Brittney Horan were unable to move Merchant to third, representing the first and second out of the inning. Darwin drove home Central Michigan’s first run of the game, hitting a single to the middle to score Merchant and moved to second on the throw. DeLamielleure ended the side with a fly ball to left.
Behind 1-0, Northern Illinois’ Sturm grounded out to Horan at second for the first out. Kopp followed with walk, Dornbos’ second of the game. Norton was the Huskies’ second out, popping a foul ball back to DeLamielleure. Erika Oswald moved the runner with the first base hot of the game for Northern Illinois. With two out and two runners on, Phelan ended the inning with a ground out to Horan.
Cox singled to left field to start the bottom of the second inning. Sexauer moved Cox to second on a bunt and beat the play to first. Rentschler was the first out of the inning for the Chippewas, popping up to second base. Senior Summer Knoop put two outs on the board with a fly out to center field, brining Merchant to the plate. Merchant ended the inning with the Chippewas ahead 1-0 on a grounder to third.
Sheppard popped up to freshman Katelyn Rentschler in foul territory for the first out the third inning. Gremillion sent the first pitch she saw right back to Dornbos for the second out. Barnett kept the inning alive for the Huskies with a single to left field. After fouling off several pitches to left, Shelby Miller reached first on ball four. Dornbos earned her third strikeout of the contest, catching Sturm chasing.
The bottom of third for Central Michigan started with a ground out by Zahrn. Horan followed with a pop up to short for out number two. Darwin reached for the second time in the game, taking a pitch off the helmet. The inning concluded with a fly ball to foul territory in left field off the bat of DeLamielleure.
Kopp tied the game in the top of the fourth inning, hitting a lead off homerun over the left-center wall. Dornbos went 22 consecutive innings without giving up a run before the solo shot. Norton was the inning’s first out, grounding out to Horan. Sexauer made a running stop at short on a grounder from Oswald for the second out. A line shot to Horan ended the top of the fourth tied 1-1.
Cox opened the bottom of the fourth with a pop up to bring Sexauer to the plate. Sexauer gave the Chippewas their second advantage of the game, hitting a solo homerun to left-center. Rentschler was the second out, flying out to shallow right field. Knoop ended the inning with a strikeout, leaving the score 2-1 in favor of Central Michigan.
Cox made a strong throw from third on a grounder off the bat of Sheppard for the first out in the top of the fifth inning. Gremillion knocked a double off the wall in right field for the Huskies first base runner of the inning. Barnett hit a grounder to Dornbos who threw over to Cox to catch the lead runner. Cox was able to catch the runner between second and third and make the throw to second for the double play to end the top of the fifth.
Merchant sent a chopper up the middle, but stepped on the home plate to be ruled the first out of the side. Zahrn was unable to beat out the throw on a grounder, brining Horan to the plate. Horan ended the fifth, popping up to second.
In the sixth inning, Miller sent a long, foul ball over the left wall before sending a line shot to Dornbos for out number one. Sturm got her second base hit of the game with one out, bringing Sundberg into the circle for the Chippewas. Sundberg struck out the first batter she faced for the second out of the inning. She threw her second consecutive strikeout to strand the runner on first, ending the top of the sixth.
Darwin led off in the bottom of the sixth, hitting a ball back to Sturm in the circle for the first out. DeLamielleure sent a pitch to deep, right field for the second out. Gremillion made a sliding catch in left field for Northern Illinois to rob a double off the bat of Cox to end the sixth inning with a 2-1 advantage for Central Michigan.
Oswald opened the seventh with a ground out to Sexauer at short. Phelan followed with a ground out to Cox who made the throw to first to put two away. Sheppard kept the inning going with a single to second. Gremillion tied it with a double off the wall in left field to score the runner from first. Barnett ended the inning with a line out to Sexauer to send the game into the bottom of the seventh.
Sexauer, already with a homerun, led off for Central Michigan. She popped up on the first pitch for out number one. Rentschler reached base on a single hit up the middle. Knoop hit into a double play to end the seventh.
Entering the eighth inning knotted at 2-2, Miller led off with a double to right-center for Northern Illinois. Sturm laid down a bunt to advance the runner to third, and reached first before a throw could be made. Kopp popped up to second for the first out of the inning. Sundberg struck out Norton to hold the runners, brining Oswald to the plate. After fouling off several pitches, she sent a long fly ball to center field for the final out of the side.
With the top of the order due up for the Chippewas, Merchant led off with a single up the middle. Zahrn hit a grounder on the right line, moving Merchant to second. The Huskies attempted to throw out the lead runner, but Merchant slid safely to second. Horan flew out to left for the second out, brining Darwin to the plate. She laid down a bunt to move Merchant to third and safely reached first. DeLamielleure grounded out, stranding two runners.
Northern Illinois opened the ninth with the top of its order. Phelan grounded out to second for the first out. Merchant made the second out of the inning, catching a high, fly ball in center field. Sundberg ended the frame with another strikeout, this time catching Gremillion looking.
Cox popped up to foul territory for the first out in the bottom of the ninth. Sexauer followed with a long shot to center field for the second out. Rentschler ended the inning, sending a pitch all the way back to the wall in left field but it was grabbed by Gremillion.
Barnett led off the tenth with a laser just out of the reach of Sundberg to reach first. Miller couldn’t move the runner over, flying out to Merchant in center. Sturm hit into a fielder’s choice that caught the lead runner for out number two. After working to a full count, Sundberg struck out Kopp to end the top of the tenth.
Knoop led off the bottom of the tenth with a double to right-center that rolled all the way to the wall. Merchant was unable to move the runner over, brining Zahrn to the plate. Zahrn struck out for the second out of the inning. Horan rocketed a pitch back to the pitcher, but could not beat the throw to first, ending the inning.
Sundberg made the first out of the 11th inning, throwing Norton out at first. Oswald followed with a pop up fly to left foul territory for the second out. Back at the top of the order, Phelan lined out to Sexauer.
The Chippewas went the entire tournament without trailing. Central Michigan’s season will continue into the NCAA Regional. The selection show will be on ESPNU tomorrow night, May 12, at 10 p.m.