INSTITUTE, W.Va. — Jenna Jones clubbed a two-run eighth inning home run to lift the Univesity of Rio Grande to a game two win and a doubleheader split with West Virginia State University, Wednesday evening, in non-conference softball action at Lady Jackets Field.
Rio’s 6-4 extra innings win in the nightcap came on the heels of the Yellow Jackets rallying from an early 4-0 deficit to post a 13-5 mercy rule-shortened victory in the opener.
The split left the RedStorm’s overall record at 19-10, while WVSU - a member of the NCAA Division II Mountain East Conference - finished the day at 19-17.
Jones’ game-winning blast in game two put Rio in front to stay after it had coughed up leads of 2-0 and 4-3 late in the contest.
The RedStorm took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Jones - a freshman from Lancaster, Ohio - led off with a double and eventually scored on a two-out passed ball.
The lead reached 2-0 in the fifth when junior Haley Gwin (Troy, OH) led off with a double and scored on a two-out single by freshman Cheyenne Hamaker (Hilliard, OH), but the Jackets rallied in the home half of the fifth to take the lead.
Victoria Crawford had a two-run double to tie the game and eventually scored the go-ahead marker on a fielder’s choice grounder to second by Mattie Best.
Jones hit a two-out home run in the sixth to tie the game and Gwin homered with one out in the top of the seventh to give Rio the lead back, but WVSU tied the game again in the bottom of the seventh thanks to an error and the contest headed to extra innings.
Sophomore Mattie Lanham (Rio Grande, OH) doubled to right-center with one out in the eighth, setting the stage for a mammoth home run to left-center by Jones - her fourth homer of the season - to give Rio the lead for good.
But the win didn’t come without some tense moments in the home half of the eighth.
Kelsey Martin and Sydney Kaplan opened the frame with consecutive singles, but both were ruled out moments later on Dee Dee Loftis’ groundball to shortstop when Martin was called for interfering with Hamaker’s ability to field the ball.
Jones then induced Anna Eggleston to groundout to second for the game’s final out.
Jones finished 3-for-4 at the plate with three runs scored and three RBIs, while Hamaker and Gwin each had two hits and drove in a run. Freshman Alex Kuhn (Oak Hill, OH) added a double to the winning effort.
Jones improved to 10-7 in the pitcher’s circle with the win, allowing 11 hits and four runs - three of which were earned - while striking out three.
Crawford had two hits and the two RBIs, while Best had two hits and drove in a run and Hannah Griffith added a triple in a losing cause for the Yellow Jackets.
Eggleston suffered the loss in the circle for WVSU, allowing nine hits and six runs - five earned - while walking one and fanning four.
In the opener, Rio Grande grabbed a 4-0 second inning lead, but watched as the Yellow Jackets rallied and closed the game with 10 unanswered runs to win going away.
Hamaker opened the contest with her first collegiate home run before adding a run-scoring single in the RedStorm’s three-run second inning. Junior Jessi Robinson (Wilmington, OH) also had an RBI single in the frame.
WVSU parlayed three hits and three Rio errors into a trio of unearned runs in the home second and, after the RedStorm got one of the runs back on a two-out run-scoring infield single by Gwin in the top of the third, Best clubbed a leadoff home run in the bottom half of the inning to get the Jackets within 5-4.
WVSU took the lead for good by scoring five times in the fourth inning before invoking the eight-run mercy rule with two runs in both the fifth and sixth innings.
Kaplan had three hits, including two doubles, and drove in two runs to lead the Yellow Jackets, while Sabrina Schouten, Best and Loftis all had two hits and two RBIs in the victory. Crawford also finished 3-for-3 with a trio of stolen bases.
Eggleton earned the win in the circle, surrendering nine hits and five runs - all earned - while walking one and striking out five.
Hamaker had three hits to go along with her two runs batted in, while Robinson finished 2-for-4 with an RBI in a losing cause.
Freshman starter Katie Noll (Loveland, OH), who retired the first five batters she faced in the game, suffered the loss in her first collegiate decision. The right-hander allowed nine hits and nine runs - only two of which were earned - while walking one and striking out one in 3-1/3 innings.
Fellow freshman Tiffany Bise (Circleville, OH) tossed the final 2-1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and four runs in the process.
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Friday afternoon with a doubleheader at Campbellsville University before playing at St. Catharine College on Saturday.
The first pitch for Friday’s opening game is set for 2 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.