LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Opening Day for the 2020 season didn’t start the way that the University of Rio Grande softball team had hoped it would.
It finished, though, better than the RedStorm could’ve ever hoped for.
Lexi Philen’s one-out, run-scoring double in the top of the seventh inning snapped a 2-2 deadlock and lifted Rio to a 3-2 win over fifth-ranked Georgia Gwinnett College, Friday afternoon, in the Grizzly Open at the Grizzly Softball Complex.
The win came on the heels of a 7-2 loss to Reinhardt (Ga.) University in the RedStorm’s first game earlier in the day.
Rio’s game-winning rally in the nightcap began with a leadoff single to left by sophomore Shelby Schmitt (Fairfield, OH). Senior Brooke Hoffman (Columbus Grove, OH) followed with a sacrifice bunt, which moved Schmitt into scoring position and set the stage for Philen – a senior from Tallmadge, Ohio – who clobbered the first pitch she saw to the wall in left field, allowing Schmitt to score the go-ahead marker.
Junior Raelynn Hastings (Commercial Point, OH) worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the bottom of the seventh inning to earn the win in relief. She allowed two hits over four shutout frames.
Sophomore Taylor Webb (Willow Wood, OH) led the RedStorm at the plate with three hits, while sophomore Kenzie Cremeens (Ironton, OH) added a two-run double in the first inning to give Rio an early lead.
Six different players had singles for Georgia Gwinnett, which ended Rio Grande’s 2019 in the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament.
Lea McFadden and Anya Vandersip drove in runs for the Grizzlies, while Alexa Good went the distance in the circle and suffered the loss.
In Friday’s opener against Reinhardt, the Eagles scored twice in the third inning and four more times in the fifth en route to an easy win.
Emily Loveless went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and three RBI to lead Reinhardt, while Emily Huss went 2-for-4 with a double and a run batted in. Natalie Parlato added two hits of her own and Emma Adams had three RBI in the winning effort.
Reagen Radke allowed five hits and struck out 10 in a complete game effort for the win.
Junior Morgan Santos (Dayton, OH) had two hits, including a double, and drove in a run for Rio, while Webb also drove in a run.
Hastings started and took the loss for the RedStorm, allowing seven hits and six runs – five earned – over four-plus innings.
Rio Grande closes out play in the two-day event on Saturday when it meets the University of the Cumberlands (Ky.) at 11 a.m. before getting a rematch with host Georgia Gwinnett at 1 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.