April 30, 2006
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Despite outhitting Central Michigan 9-5, the Miami University softball team (21-30; 7-11 MAC) left 10 runners on base and pushed only one run across in a 3-1 loss to the Chippewas Sunday at CMU Softball Complex. Senior Courtney Salmon (Auburn, Wash.) scattered three hits and allowed one earned run in her third quality start of the weekend, but Central Michigan scored a pair of sixth-inning runs to break a 1-1 tie and earn the series split.
Miami put runners in scoring position in both the first and second innings but could not push a run across in either frame. Junior Ashley Nieman (Richmond, Mich.) reached on a fielder's choice and stole second in the top of the first, but she was left stranded after back-to-back strikeouts. The RedHawks then loaded the bases in the top of the second after a two-out single by senior Bianca Paz (Mesilla, N.M.) and back-to-back walks to sophomore Kimberly Williams (Circleville, Ohio) and freshman Alexis Javier (Whittier, Calif.), but a groundout ended the inning and kept the game scoreless.
Central Michigan broke the scoreless deadlock with one third-inning run, as a pair of Miami fielding miscues opened the door for the Chippewas. Brittany Decker reached on an error to open the inning, and after a bunt attempt was popped up for the first out, a single from Amy Hudson gave Central Michigan its first runner in scoring position. Christan Dhondt then followed by dribbling a soft grounder down the first-base line, but in a moment of indecisiveness, Miami did not force out the runner at first and made a late throw home, turning Dhondt's groundout into a RBI fielder's choice. Salmon bore down to retire the next two batters, stranding a pair of runners and keeping Central Michigan's lead at 1-0.
The RedHawks finally broke through in the top of the fifth inning as sophomore Christine Bills' (Canal Fulton, Ohio) two-out RBI single knotted the game at 1-1. Nieman dropped a one-out single in front of the leftfielder to start the rally, and after a groundout moved her to second, Bills fought off a tough inside pitch for a bloop single to centerfield, with Nieman racing home from second to tie the game.
Salmon retired seven of the final eight batters she faced before being lifted after five innings. Salmon struck out four and scattered three singles, lowering her weekend earned-run average to 0.37. In 19.0 innings in her three weekend appearances, Salmon allowed only one earned run and struck out 20 batters.
The Chippewas plated the go-ahead runs in the top of the sixth once Salmon was lifted from the game. After a leadoff walk and a one-out walk, a groundout from Ali Pettit moved the runners up to second and third with two outs. Karen Hohs then slapped a single back through the middle and just beyond the glove of a diving Javier at second, plating both runners and putting Central Michigan in front, 3-1.
In the top of the seventh, Miami did not go down without a fight as a one-out double from senior Kristen Hays (Phoenix, Ariz.) brought the tying run to the plate, but a popout and a strikeout ended the game.
Seven of Miami's nine starters collected at least one hit, including Bills and sophomore Breanna Robinson (Toledo, Ohio) who both finished 2-for-4. Bills had the game's lone RBI and extended her hitting streak to a team- and career-best nine games with her pair of singles.
Freshman Kelly Cabana (Irvine, Calif.) took the loss (8-18), allowing two runs in 2/3 of an inning.
Miami closes out its regular season next weekend when its travels to Kent State (May 5) and Buffalo (May 6-7).