RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Late-game rallies at home have become a staple of the 2021 season for the University of Rio Grande softball team.
On Wednesday afternoon, in less-than-ideal weather conditions, head coach Chris Hammond’s club was at it again.
The RedStorm survived the cold, intermittent snow showers and a spirited effort from rival Point Park University for a pair of last-at-bat victories over the Pioneers in River States Conference action at Rio Softball Park.
Rio Grande won the opener, 8-7, in eight innings before scoring three times in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 7-4 triumph in the nightcap.
Rio, which has now won 10 consecutive games and 18 of its last 20 outings, improved to 33-12 overall and 16-2 in conference play.
The wins were the fifth and sixth this season at home for the RedStorm in their final at bat.
Point Park slipped to 14-18 overall and 8-10 against RSC opponents.
The Pioneers scored seven times in the fifth inning of the opening game to take a 7-1 advantage, but Rio rallied for six runs in the sixth inning to forge a tie and then pushed across the game-winning marker in the bottom of the eighth.
Freshman Caitlyn Brisker (Oak Hill, OH) clubbed a three-run home run and junior Zoe Doll (Minford, OH) had a two-run single to highlight the six-run uprising in the sixth.
The game-winning rally in the eighth began with a leadoff single by junior Kenzie Cremeens (Ironton, OH) – the reigning RSC Player of the Week – and ended on a two-out, run-scoring single to center by Doll.
Doll finished 3-for-5 with three RBI, while freshman Cierra Clark (Plain City, OH) and junior Shelby Schmitt (Fairfield, OH) also had three hits each. Clark’s totals included a double and two RBI.
Brisker also had a double to go along with her home run, while freshman Lexi Carnahan (Felicity, OH) added a double of her own.
Freshman Sydney Campolo (New Lexington) earned the win in relief of senior starter Raelynn Hastings (Commercial Point, OH) by tossing two scoreless innings and fanning three batters.
Outside of the seven-run fifth, which was played during a heavy squall of snow and sleet, Hastings blanked Point Park on four hits while striking out seven over five innings.
But the Pioneers parlayed seven hits and a wild pitch into their big inning against the league’s leader in earned run average.
Taylor Goldstrohm and Jodi Frontino both went 2-for-4 with a double and a run batted in for PPU, while Hailey Leitner was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Jada Simon had a run-scoring double.
Courtney Shoemake suffered the loss, allowing four hits and a run over 2-1/3 innings.
In the nightcap, Point Park scored twice in the first and twice more in the third inning to take a 4-2 lead into the fourth inning.
Rio rallied to score twice in the home fourth to tie the game before getting three runs in the sixth for the win.
Brisker had a two-run single to tie the game in the fourth, while Cremeens broke the deadlock with a two-out RBI hit in the sixth before senior Kayla Slutz (Navarre, OH) tacked on a pair of insurance markers with a single of her own.
The Pioneers put runners at second and third and had the would-be tying run at the plate with one out in the seventh, but Simon lined to third for a game-ending double play.
Schmitt finished 3-for-4 in the win, while Brisker and Slutz both had two hits and two RBI. Cremeens finished 2-for-4 with a run batted in and Doll went 2-for-4.
Campolo went the distance in the circle, allowing seven hits and four runs while walking three and striking out five.
Simon suffered the loss for PPU.
Goldstrohm went 2-for-4 with a double and Horn finished 2-for-2 with a double and a run batted in for the Pioneers. Simon added two RBI in a losing cause.
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Friday when it hosts Ohio Christian University for another RSC twin bill.
First pitch for game one is set for 2 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.