Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
AKRON, Ohio - A missed opportunity. Two early long balls.
And though it was just the first inning, it set the tone and eventually it spelled the end for the Central Michigan softball team in the Mid-American Conference Tournament and to the Chippewas' season.
Ball State got two first-inning home runs and two Cardinal pitchers limited the Chippewas to four hits on Thursday as CMU fell, 5-1, in a tourney elimination game at Firestone Stadium. The Chippewas opened the tournament on Wednesday with an 8-6 10-inning loss to Toledo.
CMU, which finished 22-26, stranded two runners in scoring position in the top of the first inning.
Maddy Labrador led off the bottom of the first with home run to straight-away center field, and then three batters later Janae Hogg homered to left to give Ball State a 2-0 lead.
"We miss opportunities in the first inning and they came back and got two runs immediately, makes a huge difference in the game," CMU coach Margo Jonker said. "I thought the kids fought, especially (Wednesday), but even today. They fought. Proud of them for that."
The Cardinals added three runs in the fifth. The Chippewas got their lone run in the sixth when Shaidan Knapp walked, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on Rachel Vieira's single.
Ball State starer Carolyn Wilmes (11-7) limited the Chippewas to two hits over five innings in earning the win. Alyssa Rothwell worked the final two innings.
Taylor Weaver (4-9) started for CMU and took the loss. She allowed two runs on two hits over 2 1/3 innings. Hanna Warren and Cloe Mallory both pitched in relief.
Lacy Tolfree and Laura Vaccaro doubled for the Chippewas, who left six on base.