Late rallies erase Rio softball
from MSC tourney
Rio Grande Sports Information
KINGSPORT, Tenn. - The University of Rio Grande took two of the top teams in the Mid-South Conference to the brink on Saturday afternoon, but bowed out of MSC Tournament play with a pair of losses at rainy Domtar Park.
The RedStorm watched 25th-ranked and MSC regular season co-champion Campbellsville rally for three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to post a 5-4 win, while Georgetown College repeated the trick with a three-run sixth inning rally for a 4-1 victory in a loser's bracket elimination contest.
Rio Grande, which was seeded seventh in the eight-team tournament, finished its season at 22-19.
In game one, the RedStorm rallied from a two-run deficit to take a two-run lead of their own before Campbellsville mounted its late game-winning rally.
The Tigers, the tourney's No. 2 seed, scored single runs in the first and fourth innings and did so both times without the benefit of a hit against Rio freshman starter Kimber Hazlett (Utica, OH).
Emma Napier led off the Campbellsville first with a walk and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base, before scoring on a rare sacrifice fly to shallow left field that was actually caught by Rio senior shortstop Katie Fuller (Hamilton, OH).
The Tigers' fourth inning run came when Kristin Benton and Taylor Borders opened the inning with back-to-back walks, both runners moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt and, after Adrean Jordan was hit by a pitch, Benton scored on a grounder back to the circle by Sarah Paragon.
Rio Grande started the road back in the fifth when freshman Claudia Farney (Rio Grande, OH) reached on a one-out single and, one out later, back-to-back singles by senior Kaylee Walk (Unionville Center, OH) and sophomore Jessi Robinson (Wilmington, OH) loaded the bases and set the stage for a game-tying single to center by Fuller.
The RedStorm then took the lead in the top of the sixth when freshman Kim Rollins (Liberty Township, OH) and senior Kaitie Stewart (Pleasant Hill, OH) led off the inning with back-to-back home runs. For Stewart, the home run was her first of the season.
Campbellsville rallied, though, in the bottom of the frame when Benton led off with a home run to center to make it 4-3. Borders then reached on an error and, after a sacrifice bunt, Jordan ended up at third on another error as Borders scored the tying run.
Moments later, Paragon plated Jordan with what proved to be the game-winner on a sacrifice fly to right.
MSC Freshman of the Year Victoria Decker, who came on in relief of starter Kelsi Pardue in the sixth inning, retired the side in order in the Rio seventh to seal the win.
Walk and Robinson both had two hits each in a losing cause for Rio, while Hazlett was the hard-luck loser despite allowing just three hits and three earned runs in a complete game effort.
Pardue did not factor in the decision for CU, but struck out 13 batters in her five innings of work. Decker tossed two hitless, shutout innings to earn her 17th win in 20 decisions.
In game two, Rio grabbed a third inning lead against Georgetown only to watch the Tigers tie the game in the fourth take the lead for good in the sixth.
The RedStorm took the lead in the third when Walk reached on a one-out bunt single, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and, after a walk to Fuller, scored on a double to deep right by sophomore Haley Gwin (Troy, OH).
Rio missed out a chance to blow things wide open, though. Rollins followed Gwin's double with a walk to load the bases, but Stewart grounded back to the pitcher's circle to end the inning.
The RedStorm also loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but Robinson grounded into a forceout at home and Fuller grounded to second to end the threat.
Georgetown tied the game with one out in the fourth when Shelby Engle drove a 3-2 pitch from Hazlett over the fence in center and then finished the comeback in the sixth.
Katie Mann opened the inning with a walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Marrissa Massie, who was promptly forced out on Mallory Johnson's grounder to third. Hillary Plain also grounded to third, but Farney's throw to second in an attempt to force Johnson was late, bringing Engle to the plate.
After taking a ball to begin the at bat, Engle fouled off five consecutive pitches. Pitch number seven was borderline offering on the outside corner which was called a ball and, after another foul, Engle deposited the 2-2 offering over the fence in left for a three-run home run and a 4-1 GC lead.
Engle then retired the Rio side in order in the seventh to complete the victory and end the RedStorm's season.
Hazlett suffered the loss despite allowing just five hits and three walks, while also striking out nine.
Freshman Ariel Roder (Parma Heights, OH) added a double in a losing cause for Rio.
In addition to the two home runs and four RBIs by Engle, Georgetown also got a pair of hits from Chelsea Riney. Engle earned the win in relief, tossing four two-hit, scoreless innings.
The two losses also marked the end of the collegiate careers of four Rio seniors - Fuller, Kaitie Stewart, Jaymie Rector and Kaylee Walk.