PITTSBURGH, Pa. — The University of Rio Grande softball team wrapped up the River States Conference regular season championship by sweeping a doubleheader from Point Park University, Friday afternoon, at Fairhaven Park.
The RedStorm edged the Pioneers by scores of 1-0 and 3-1 in the twin bill, which was designated as the RSC’s Softball Games of the Week.
Rio Grande extended its school-record winning streak to 25 consecutive games, improving to 36-6 overall and 14-0 in league play.
Point Park dropped to 17-16 overall and 8-4 inside the RSC with the losses.
By virtue of clinching the RSC’s regular season title, Rio Grande also punched its ticket to next month’s NAIA national tournament.
Friday’s opening game was a pitcher’s duel between Rio senior Jenna Jones (Lancaster, OH) and Point Park’s Ashley Iagnemma.
Jones took a no-hitter into the fourth inning, while Iagnemma tossed 5-2/3 no-hit innings until Rio sophomore Carly Skeese (Newark, OH) hit a solo home run to center field to give the RedStorm a 1-0 lead.
The Pioneers threatened in the home half of the seventh inning by putting the would-be tying run at third base with one out, but Jones fanned each of the next two batters to seal the win.
Jones (10-3) allowed four hits and two walks while striking out eight en route to her 10th straight winning decision.
Freshman Michaela Criner (Lancaster, OH) added a double in the winning effort for the RedStorm.
Iagnemma suffered her sixth loss in 14 decisions, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out 11 in a complete game effort.
Game two saw Rio Grande rally from an early deficit for the victory.
Jess Beitler led off the second inning for Point Park with a double and was replaced by pinch-runner Courtney Blocher, who eventually raced home on a sacrifice fly by Alyssa McMurtrie to give the Pioneers a 1-0 advantage.
Rio Grande tied the game in the top of the third when senior Kari Jenkins (Jackson, OH) led off with a single, junior Gabby Gregg (Ashville, OH) reached on an error, senior Cheyenne Hamaker (Hilliard, OH) bunted both runners into scoring position and senior Alex Stevens (Oak Hill, OH) followed with a run-scoring single.
That’s how things stayed until the RedStorm grabbed the lead in the sixth.
Junior Tayler Arndt (Clyde, OH) doubled with one out and was replaced by sophomore pinch-runner Kelly Fuchs (Williamsport, OH), who scored the go-ahead run one out later on a double by sophomore MacKenzie Nichols (Columbus, OH). Senior Courtney Walk (Unionville Center, OH) came on to run for Nichols and scored an insurance run moments later on a single by Criner.
Point Park put a runner at second base with no outs in the home sixth and put a pair of runners on in the seventh, but failed to dent the plate.
Sophomore Kelsey Conkey (Minford, OH) improved to 16-1 with the win, allowing just three hits and a walk in a complete game effort. She struck out seven.
Tiffany Edwards started and took the loss for Point Park.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.