AKRON, Ohio - The Central Michigan softball team defeated Western Michigan 2-0 on Friday to advance to the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship game.
The Chippewas' opponent will be determined Saturday morning. Ball State and Miami play an elimination game Friday night, with the winner advancing to face Western Michigan at 11 a.m. Saturday. The winner of Saturday morning's game will meet CMU (30-25 overall) in the championship game at 1:30 p.m.; the Chippewas, with no losses in the tournament, will have two opportunities to record the win they need to clinch the tournament title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
CMU, the tournament's No. 6 seed, scored all the runs it would need during the fourth inning on Friday. Molly Coldren drew a one-out walk, then advanced to second when Ashley Gilson followed her with a single. Brogan Darwin struck out for the second out of the inning, but CarolAnn Sexauer drove a two-out double to right center that plated Coldren and Gilson with the game's only runs.
The Broncos (28-23) had only one scoring opportunity in the bottom of the first. Christina Pigozzi singled, but Cory DeLamielleure found the glove of Brittney Horan at first, picking off Pigozzi. That play would hurt the Broncos, because the next batter, Tara Buchanan, roped a triple past Macy Merchant in center field. Kara Dornbos went right at Gracie Barstad in the next at bat and got her swinging on an outside pitch to end the inning.
It was a pitchers dual as both teams could only muster four hits and combined to advance just two runners into scoring position. Dornbos (15-14) threw her seventh shutout of the season, allowing only four hits and striking out three.
Meredith Whitney (19-13) also held the Chippewas to four hits, but allowed two runs. She struck out 12 CMU batters in the loss.
The Chippewas pushed their winning streak to nine games, the longest on the season, with Friday's victory and earned their first trip to the title game since 2007. The Maroon and Gold last won the conference tournament in 2002 and under head coach Margo Jonker have won nine championships.