BARBOURVILLE, Ky. — Union College spotted the University of Rio Grande an early two-run lead before scoring seven unanswered runs en route to a 7-2 game two victory and a split of the season-opening twinbill for both teams, Friday afternoon, in non-conference softball action at Union Field.
The RedStorm won the opener, 4-1.
Rio Grande grabbed a 2-0 third inning lead in game two when freshman Aubrey Azbill led off with a walk and moved to second on a single by Lexi Philen. One out later, a wild pitch scored Azbill and Philen later scored on a sacrifice fly by Kelsey Conkey.
The Bulldogs got the runs back in the home half of the inning thanks to an RBI double by Bailey Gowin and a run-scoring single off the bat of Juli King, but lowered the boom in the bottom of the fifth by scoring five times.
Monique Cazares drew a leadoff walk from Rio senior starter Mallory Powell (Flatwoods, KY), but was forced out moments later on a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop by Perla Del Valle. Moriah Tedder then walked, spelling the end of the day in the circle for Powell.
Makala Gore greeted junior reliever Kacee Jenkins (Jackson, OH) with a two-run double and Gowin followed with an RBI single. The final two runs of the inning crossed as a result of a passed by freshman catcher Kayla Slutz (Navarre, OH) and a wild pitch by Jenkins.
Rio managed just two hits over the final four innings and only five singles for the game against Union starter Caitlynn Estevez, who survived five walks in a complete game effort.
Gowin, King and Gore all had two hits in the win for the Bulldogs.
Powell allowed four hits and five runs over 3-1/3 innings, while walking three and striking out two.
In Rio’s opening game win, junior Kelsey Conkey (Minford, OH) staked herself to a 2-0 first inning lead with a two-out home run and never looked back.
She scattered seven hits and walked one, while striking out five in a route-going performance.
Union got its lone run in the third inning on an RBI single by King, but Rio got the run back in the fourth on an RBI double by sophomore Michaela Criner (Bremen, OH).
Criner added a two-out, inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning to set the final score.
Criner, Conkey and Powell all had two hits each in the winning effort for the RedStorm.
King finished 2-for-2 and Lauren Talton had two hits, including a double, in the loss for the Bulldogs.
Heather Keane started and took the loss for UC, allowing seven hits and the four runs over six innings. She also surrendered three walks, while striking out nine.
Rio Grande returns to action next weekend when it plays four games at Thomas University in Thomasville, Ga. The RedStorm will face Truett-McConnell (Ga.) and Montreat (N.C.) on Friday, while battling the University of Mobile (Ala.) and Thomas on Saturday.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.
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