KENNEDY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The University of Rio Grande pounded out 28 hits and scored 22 runs en route to a doubleheader sweep of Carlow University, Saturday afternoon, in River States Conference softball action at Fairhaven Park.
The RedStorm posted a 10-0 mercy rule-shortened win in the opener before outslugging the host Celtics, 12-6, in the back end of the twinbill.
Rio Grande, which was playing the final games of its regular season schedule, improved to 32-12 overall and 17-1 inside the RSC.
The RedStorm will be the top seed in the RSC Tournament, which is set to begin Thursday at Jackson Memorial Park in Vienna, W.Va.
Carlow slipped to 18-18 overall and 8-10 in league play with the two losses.
Rio Grande took a 3-0 lead into the fifth inning of game one, but managed to invoke the 8-run mercy rule by scoring four times in the fifth and adding three more markers in the sixth.
Freshman Taylor Webb (Willow Wood, OH) went 4-for-4 with a double and a run batted in to lead the RedStorm offense, while senior Kelsey Conkey (Minford, OH) went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI and junior Michaela Criner (Bremen, OH) added two hits of her own, including a home run.
Freshman Kenzie Cremeens (Ironton, OH) doubled and drove in a run, while sophomore Kayla Slutz (Navarre, OH) clubbed her first home run of the year in the victory.
Conkey went the distance in the circle to record the win, allowing three hits and striking out six in a shutout effort.
Carlow ace Abby Stroud started and took the loss for the Celtics, allowing nine hits and seven runs – five earned – over 4-1/3 innings.
Game two saw Rio Grande explode for a season-high 16 hits and rebound from a two-run first inning deficit.
The RedStorm grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first when Criner was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a pair of wild pitches, but the Celtics answered with three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame.
Rio countered with five runs in the third to take the lead for good before added two more markers in the fourth and scoring four times in the sixth inning.
Criner finished 4-for-4 with a home run, a double and two RBI, while Webb had three hits and three RBI and Conkey went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI.
Sophomore Mary Pica (Minford, OH) added two hits and drove in two runs, while Cremeens finished 2-for-3 with a double and a run batted in.
Sophomore Raelynn Hastings (Commercial Point, OH) earned the win despite equaling a season-high six runs allowed. She allowed nine hits and walked three in a complete game effort.
Annamarie Osiecki started and lost for the Celtics, allowing five hits and six runs over just 2-1.3 innings.
Tristan Voss homered and drove in two runs for Carlow, while Osiecki also drove in a pair of runs. Sofia Papageorge and Ciara Murray both added two hits and an RBI in a losing cause.
Rio Grande is scheduled to open post-season play on Friday, at 10 a.m., in the six-team, double-elimination tournament against an opponent still to be determined.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.