RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande extended its winning streak to 19 consecutive games, sweeping a doubleheader from Midway University in River States Conference softball action, Sunday afternoon, at sun-splashed Rio Softball Park.
The RedStorm pushed across a sixth inning run to post a 1-0 win in the opener, while racing to a big early lead in an eventual 8-0 mercy rule-shortened triumph in the nightcap.
The twinbill was designated as the RSC’s Softball Games of the Week.
Rio Grande, ranked No. 22 in the latest NAIA coaches’ poll, improved to 30-6 overall and 12-0 in league play as a result of the sweep.
Midway dropped to 13-15 overall and 7-5 in the RSC.
Game one was a pitcher’s duel from the outset between Rio Grande senior Jenna Jones (Lancaster, OH) and Midway’s Tiffany Wickline.
Jones allowed six hits and a walk, while striking out six in a complete game effort. The right-hander collected her eighth straight win after opening the season with three straight losses.
Wickline allowed just four hits and two walks, while fanning eight over six innings. Her season record evened at 7-7 with the loss.
Rio scored the game’s lone run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Senior Alex Stevens (Oak Hill, OH) led off with a single and moved into scoring position when she beat the throw to second base on a sacrifice bunt attempt by sophomore Carly Skeese (Newark, OH). Junior Taylor Arndt (Clyde, OH) followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt of her own, which was errored to load the bases, and sophomore Kelsey Conkey (Minford, OH) brought home Stevens with a single to left field.
Wickline retired the next three batters to keep the deficit at one run, but Jones sealed the victory in the seventh by retiring Midway’s Carly Benz on a flyball to center to leave the would-be tying and go-ahead runs on base.
Lynsie Clark finished 2-for-3 in the loss for the Eagles.
In the nightcap, Rio Grande scored twice in the first inning and three times in the second inning and never looked back. All five of the runs were unearned.
The two first inning runs scored when a two-out fly to left off the bat of Conkey was dropped for an error, while senior Cheyenne Hamaker (Hilliard, OH) had a sacrifice fly and Skeese added a run-scoring single in the three-run second.
Skeese tacked on a two-run home run – her team-leading eighth of the season – in the fourth to make it 7-0, while Hamaker’s two-out RBI single in the home fifth plated the game’s final run.
Conkey improved to 13-1 with the win, tossing her second shutout in as many days. The right-hander allowed just three hits and struck out four.
Abby Flaig started and took the loss for Midway, allowing four hits and the five unearned runs over 1-2/3 innings.
Skeese finished 3-for-3 in the win for Rio.
Rio Grande returns to action next Friday, traveling to Cannonsburg, Ky. to face Kentucky Christian University in a non-conference doubleheader.
Midway hosts the University of the Cumberlands on Wednesday afternoon.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.