GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Michaela Criner clubbed a grand slam home run to highlight a five-run fourth inning in game one, while Kenzie Cremeens had three hits and two runs batted in to lead the University of Rio Grande to a game two win and a doubleheader sweep of Georgetown College, Friday afternoon, in non-conference softball action at a chilly Tiger Softball Complex.
The RedStorm, who were among the teams receiving votes in the NAIA preseason Top 25, posted a 5-1 triumph in the opener and an 8-2 victory in the nightcap.
Georgetown, which also was among the schools receiving votes in the preseason poll, was playing its first games of the season.
Game one was a scoreless deadlock before Rio Grande sent eight batters to the plate and scored five times.
Sophomore Kayla Slutz (Navarre, OH) got the rally started with a one-out single to left-center and was replaced at first by freshman courtesy runner Paige Probasco (Sugar Grove, OH).
Senior Carly Skeese (Newark, OH) followed with a walk and freshman Taylor Webb (Willow Wood, OH) singled to load the bases, setting the stage for a run-scoring single to left-center by junior Lexi Philen (Tallmadge, OH).
Georgetown starting pitcher Audrey Dodd was lifted in favor of Hannah Morton – a 20-game winning from a year ago – and Criner deposited Morton’s second pitch over the fence in left field for a grand slam home run and a 5-0 lead.
The Tigers scratched across an unearned run when Allison Watson led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a groundout by Annie Campbell.
Outside of its scoring inning, Georgetown was held in check by Rio sophomore starter Raelynn Hastings (Commerical Point, OH).
The right-hander scattered seven hits – all singles – and walked one, while striking out four in a complete game effort.
Criner (Bremen, OH) and Philen both finished 3-for-3 in the winning effort.
Dodd allowed five hits and four runs, while walking three over 3-1/3 innings in suffering the loss for GC.
In the nightcap, the RedStorm took control by scoring twice in the second inning and three more times in the third against Georgetown starter Averie Lozano to take a 5-0 lead.
Philen had a two-run triple in the second inning for Rio, while sophomore Morgan Santos (Dayton, OH), Cremeens – a freshman from Ironton, Ohio – and freshman Taylor Webb (Willow Wood, OH) had a sacrifice fly in the three-run third.
The Tigers got one of the runs back in the home third on a leadoff single by Kristen Klimesh and an RBI double by Allison Watson.
Rio Grande pushed the lead by to five thanks to a run-scoring single by Cremeens in the fifth and senior Kelsey Conkey (Minford, OH) added a two-run home run in the sixth inning to make it 8-1.
Georgetown set the final score in its final at bat thanks to three straight two-out hits, the last of which by Campbell drove home the run.
Freshman Nicole Brown (Amelia, OH) survived seven walks in a complete game effort, allowing seven hits and the two runs while striking out four.
Freshman Shelby Schmitt (Fairfield, OH) and sophomore Mary Pica (Minford, OH) added two hits each in the win for the RedStorm.
Campbell and Abigail James had two hits each for the Tigers, who stranded 12 runners on base in the loss.
Rio Grande returns to action next Friday as part of a round-robin event hosted by Reinhardt University in Waleska, Ga.
The RedStorm will face Campbellsville (Ky.) University at 11 a.m. and Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University at 1 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.