PITTSBURGH, Pa. — It’s been said that all good things must come to an end – even school-record winning streaks.
The University of Rio Grande softball team recorded a 26th consecutive victory before seeing its string of success snapped with a game two loss to Carlow University, Saturday afternoon, in a River States Conference doubleheader at Fairhaven Park’s Lynn Field.
The RedStorm rolled to a 12-0 mercy rule-shortened triumph in the opener, while the Celtics mounted a miraculous comeback late in the nightcap for a 10-7 win.
Rio Grande finished the day at 37-7 overall and 15-1 in conference play.
Carlow, which registered just its second all-time win against the RedStorm, moved to 13-13-1 overall and 4-10 in league play.
The 10 runs were the most allowed by Rio pitching since a 10-3 loss to Mount Vernon Nazarene on March 18, 2015 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The loss was also the first for the RedStorm since a 5-2 setback at the hands of Davenport (Mich.) on March 10.
In Saturday’s game one win, Rio’s offensive story centered around sophomore Kelsey Conkey (Minford, OH), who hit a grand slam home run in the RedStorm’s five-run first inning before clubbing a two-run home run in the fourth inning.
In between, Rio also was the beneficiary of a two-run home run in the second inning by sophomore Carly Skeese (Newark, OH).
The RedStorm finished things off with a trio of runs in the fifth, highlighted by a two-run single off the bat of senior Alex Stevens (Oak Hill, OH).
Stevens finished 3-for-3 at the plate and scored four times, while Skeese, junior Tayler Arndt (Clyde, OH) and Conkey all had two hits each.
Sophomore Kacee Jenkins (Jackson, OH) allowed two hits and struck out three over four innings to earn the win, while junior Mallory Powell (Flatwoods, KY) allowed one hit in a scoreless inning of relief to wrap things up.
Sydney Greece started and took the loss for Carlow.
Conkey got Rio off to a good start in game two as well, cracking her third homer of the day in the second inning to give the RedStorm a 1-0 lead.
A run-scoring single by Carlow’s Kenzie Young tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth and started a see-saw affair the rest of the way, with a sacrifice fly by senior Cheyenne Hamaker (Hilliard, OH) in the top of the fifth giving Rio back a 2-1 advantage.
An error by the RedStorm and an RBI double by Abby Tatgenhorst in the home fifth made it 3-2 in favor of the Celtics, but Rio batted around and scored five times in the top of the sixth to take a seemingly insurmountable 7-3 lead.
Senior Brittany Walk (Unionville Center, OH) had a two-run double, Stevens had a run-scoring two-base hit and sophomore MacKenzie Nichols (Columbus, OH) had an RBI single in the frame.
But then came a disastorous bottom of the sixth, which saw Carlow send 11 batters to the plate and score seven times.
Allison Hryadil had the big blow in the Celtics, hammering a three-run home run to center field to give the hosts a 9-7 cushion.
Nichols and freshman Michaela Criner (Lancaster, OH) had two hits each for Rio Grande, while Jenkins – the last of three RedStorm pitchers – suffered the loss.
Hryadil headed Carlow’s 14-hit attack, going 3-for-4. Young, Danielle Levato, Natalie Bashada and Haley Stedeford all finished with two hits each.
Nicole Hall, who began the game in the circle for the Celtics before giving way to Caitlyn Suter in the sixth, re-entered in the home seventh and retired the side for a save.
Suter got the win despite allowing the five sixth inning runs – only one of which was earned.
Rio Grande returns to action on Tuesday afternoon when it hosts rival Shawnee State University for a non-conference doubleheader at Rio Softball Park.
First pitch for the opening game is slated for 3 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.