Central Michigan exploded in the third inning, earning three runs off of three hits to give the team an early 3-0 lead.

Finding no luck in the number three, Ball State softball (29-22,13-6 MAC) fell to Mid-American Conference foe Central Michigan (32-13,14-4 MAC) this afternoon with a final score of 6-1.

Failing to put more than one run on the board, the Cardinals are down one loss in comparison to the Chippewas in a battle for the top spot in the MAC West Division.

In a quick-paced game at Margo Jonker Stadium, Ball State head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett knew this was going to be a head-to-head battle with respected Central Michigan head coach Margo Jonker.

“They are a very good softball club,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “Coach Jonker is really a legend. She is coaching in a stadium that is named after her. Anytime you’re walking into that environment, you know you’re going to have to be on your A-game.”

Surpassing the third inning blues, the Cardinals gave up two more runs to the Chippewas in the bottom of the fifth inning after a base hit and RBI double. They tacked on another run before ending the inning, putting them at three runs on three hits in another inning.

Junior right-handed pitcher Carolyn Wilmes recorded three strikeouts in almost five complete innings pitched, but picked up the loss before sophomore pitcher Aeisha Miles came in to relieve. Wilmes is now 13-11 on the season. She had five earned runs and gave up seven hits today.

Central Michigan pitcher Rachael Knapp shut down the Cardinals' offense by only giving up three hits in her complete seven innings pitched. Striking out three today and only walking two, Knapp has a 1.35 ERA on the season.

“They need to compete every pitch,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “I just don’t know that we’ve necessarily been as sharp as we can in the past weekends, so we have really got to work and put our nose to the grind."

With high hopes for tomorrow's games, the Cardinals will wrap up the three-game series against the Chippewas with a double-header scheduled to start at 1 p.m. 

"We need to not only stay sharp from a mechanical standpoint, but really instill a really strong work ethic in the kids this weekend," Ciolli Bartlett said. "There's going to be a lot of value in the games this weekend."