RedStorm drops ranked foes at NFCA Leadoff Classic

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

COLUMBUS, Ga. — The University of Rio Grande picked up a pair of wins over nationally-ranked foes on Friday afternoon as part of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s (NFCA) Leadoff Classic at South Commons Park.

The RedStorm, who were among the teams receiving votes in the NAIA Preseason Coaches’ Top 25, knocked off 16th-ranked and previously-unbeaten William Carey (Miss.) University, 3-2, in their opening contest before upending Truett-McConnell (Ga.) University — like Rio, a team receiving votes in the coaches’ poll — 7-2.

The sweep left Rio Grande at 5-2 on the season.

In game one, the Crusaders — who began the day at 10-0, with six straight mercy-rule victories — pushed across a first inning run, but the RedStorm scored twice in the bottom of the frame and never trailed again.

Rio’s first inning markers came when senior Zoe Doll’s (Minford, OH) routine two-out flyball to right was dropped for an error, with senior Shelby Schmitt (Fairfield, OH) and sophomore Caitlyn Brisker (Oak Hill, OH) racing home.

The RedStorm lead reached 3-1 when Doll led off the bottom of the fourth with an inside-the-park home run to right field, but William Carey got the run back in the sixth thanks to a pair of two-out singles and an error.

Rio Grande senior starter Raelynn Hastings (Commercial Point, OH) escaped any further damage in the frame by inducing Hannah Gasaway into an inning-ending flyout. She then retired the side in order in the seventh to seal the win.

Schmitt had two hits and senior Kenzie Cremeens (Ironton, OH) added a double in the winning effort.

Hastings got her first win in five decisions, scattering nine and walking one in a complete game effort. The right-hander struck out two and only one of the two runs was earned.

Megan Dudenhefer suffered the loss, allowing six hits and three runs — one earned — with a walk and four strikeouts.

Brooke Tanner went 3-for-4 in the loss for the Crusaders, while Maranda Busby and Aleigha Walden had two hits each.

In the nightcap against Truett-McConnell, Rio again overcame an early 1-0 deficit by scoring three times in the bottom half of the first inning.

The Bears closed the gap to 3-2 in the top of the fourth, but the RedStorm countered with a grand slam home run by Brisker in the bottom of the inning to take control once and for all.

Brisker finished with two hits, while junior Taylor Webb (Willow Wood, OH) had a two-run double in the three-run first.

Sophomore starter Sydney Campolo (New Lexington, OH) got her first win of the year, allowing three hits and two runs over four innings.

Karley Hobbs started and took the loss for TMU, allowing six hits and seven runs — six earned — over 3-1/3 innings.

Rachel Morgan had two hits, including a double, in the loss for the Bears.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.