VIENNA, W.Va. — Mallory Powell had two hits, including a go-ahead three-run home run, and tied a career-high with five RBI to lead the University of Rio Grande in an 8-2 win over Midway University, Saturday afternoon, in the winner’s bracket final of the River States Conference Softball Tournament at soggy Jackson Memorial Park.
The top-seeded RedStorm improved to 35-11 with the win and advanced to the championship game of the double-elimination tourney.
Weather permitting, head coach Chris Hammond’s squad will face the survivor of the loser’s bracket final between Midway and Point Park University on Sunday afternoon and would have to beaten twice by either the Eagles or the Pioneers.
The Midway-Point Park game was suspended on Saturday night after a 4-1/2-hour rain delay, with the Pioneers leading 1-0 in the top of the first.
Conference officials hope to resume the game on Sunday at noon, although soaking rains were in the overnight and early morning forecast.
If the game — and the remainder of the tournament — can’t be finished, the league’s second automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament will go to Indiana University Southeast, which finished behind Rio Grande in the regular season standings.
Ironically, the No. 2 seed Grenadiers were upset by both seventh-seeded Carlow and No. 6 seed Cincinnati Christian and were eliminated from the tournament on Friday.
Rio Grande, which already has secured a berth to the national tourney by virtue of its regular season championship, fell behind for the first time in the tournament after Midway parlayed four hits and an error into a pair of runs for a 2-1 third inning lead.
But the RedStorm countered with seven unanswered runs to win going away.
Powell, a senior from Flatwoods, Ky., put Rio ahead to stay in the bottom of the third with a three-run home run, her second circuit clout of the season.
The RedStorm added four more runs in the home fourth, with two of the markers scoring on a single by Powell. Junior Carly Skeese (Newark, OH) added a run-scoring hit in the frame.
Outside of the third inning uprising by the Eagles, Rio junior starter Kacee Jenkins (Jackson, OH) was solid in the pitcher’s circle.
In her first appearance in almost three weeks, the right-hander allowed just six hits and did not walk a batter.
Freshman Mary Pica (Minford, OH) finished 3-for-4 in the win, while Powell, juniors Kelly Fuchs (Williamsport, OH) and Kelsey Conkey (Minford, OH) and sophomore Lexi Philen (Tallmadge, OH) all had two hits each.
Conkey’s hit total included a double.
Kelsey Gravens had two of Midway’s six hits and Aliyah Johnson added a double in a losing cause for the Eagles.
Alyssa Yates started and took the loss for MU, allowing eight hits and four runs over three innings.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.
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