Portsmouth, Ohio – Shawnee State softball were swept in their final home doubleheader of the season, losing to #19 Rio Grande 5-3 in game one and 14-2 in game two.
The Bears and Red Storm would play to a scoreless tie until the top of the fifth, when Rio Grande would break the deadlock with three runs. Tayler Arndt would lead off the inning with a single and be replaced by pinch runner Kelly Fuchs. Fuchs would be moved to second base on a bunt by Kelsey Conkey, and would score two batters later on an RBI double by Michaela Criner. Gabby Gregg would follow Criner with a two-run home run to make the score 3-0.
Carly Skeese would add a solo home run for Rio Grande in the top of the sixth before Shawnee State would get on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the inning. Ashtyn Saunders (FR/Lancaster, Ohio) would lead off the inning with a single and score on Katlyn Gleich (SO/Grove City, Ohio)'s two-run home run to make the score 4-2.
Rio Grande would get an important insurance run in the top of the seventh. Kari Jenkins would lead off the inning with a double, and advance to third on Criner's sacrifice bunt. Gregg would get her third RBI of the game by singling down the left field line to make the score 5-3.
Shawnee State would mount a rally in the bottom of the seventh. Mackenzie Riley (SO/Proctorville, Ohio) would lead off the inning with a single and would steal second with one out. Haley Rawlins (FR/South Point, Ohio) would single Riley to third, and would herself steal second. Megan Shupert (SO/West Portsmouth, Ohio) would ground out to score Riley and move Rawlins to third, and Shawnee State would load the bases on consecutive hit by pitches to Saunders and Gleich. However, Rio Grande starter Jenna Jones would strike out Marisa Brown (SO/Liberty Township, Ohio) to end the threat and the game.
Jones would throw all seven innings for Rio Grande, allowing three runs on six hits and striking out 11 in the win. Brooke Blevins (FR/Frankfort, Ohio) would get hit with the loss, allowing five runs on six hits and striking out 11 in seven innings of work.
Game two would get off to a poor start for Shawnee State as Rio Grande would knock SSU starter McKenzie Whittaker (SO/McDermott, Ohio) out of the game in the first with four runs, and would add three in the second. Carly Skeese would have the big blow of the first two innings, hitting a two-run homer in the first.
Shawnee State would score their two runs in the fourth inning. Marisa Brown would single to lead off the frame, and Mackenzie Riley would walk to move her to second. Brown would be forced out at third on a fielder's choice by Miranda Melvin (SR/Oak Hill, Ohio). Haley Rawlins would drive in Riley, with Melvin reaching third and Rawlins second on a throwing error by Cheyenne Hamaker. Ashtyn Saunder's single would score Melvin to cut the lead to 7-2.
Rio Grande would not be denied the run rule victory, scoring seven runs in the top of the sixth, with Skeese hitting her second home run of the game, once again a two-run shot. Kelsey Conkey would get Shawnee State out in the bottom of the sixth to end the game and clinch the sweep for the Red Storm.
Conkey would go the distance for Rio, allowing two runs on five hits in six innings to get the win. McKenzie Whittaker would allow four runs on five hits, only getting one out in the first inning to take the loss.
The losses move Shawnee State's record to 23-19 on the season. Rio Grande improves to 34-6 on the year.
Shawnee State softball has the weekend off before returning to action next Monday, April 24th when they will make up two games at Kentucky Christian that were cancelled earlier this season.