Rio Grande Sports Information
RIO GRANDE, Ohio - Kelsey Conkey pitched a game one shutout and recorded the final three outs of game two for save in the University of Rio Grande's doubleheader sweep of rival Shawnee State University, Tuesday afternoon, in non-conference action at Rio Softball Park.
The RedStorm won the opener, 5-0, before knocking off the Bears, 2-1, in the back end of the twin bill.
Rio Grande improved to 39-7 with the wins, drawing to within two victories of the single-season school record established last season.
Shawnee State finished its regular season slate at 23-22 with the losses.
Conkey, a sophomore from Minford, Ohio, ran her season record to 17-1 and lowered her earned run average to a dazzling 0.89. The game two save was her second of the season.
Conkey allowed just two baserunners in the opener - doubles by Marisa Brown in the second inning and Kayla Koch in the fourth. She finished with five strikeouts.
The RedStorm gave Conkey all the offensive help she would need in the second inning when sophomore MacKenzie Nichols (Columbus, OH) reached on a one-out single and scored all the way from first on a two-out double by senior Kari Jenkins (Jackson, OH).
Rio tacked on four more runs in the third off Shawnee starter Brooke Blevins (12-11) - all after two were out.
Freshman Michaela Criner (Lancaster, OH) led off with a double, junior Tayler Arndt (Clyde, OH) drew a two-out walk and both scored on a subsequent triple to left-center off the bat of Conkey for a 3-0 lead. Nichols plated Conkey with a single to left and senior Cheyenne Hamaker followed with an RBI double to complete the scoring.
Criner and Nichols finished with two hits each in the win.
Blevins allowed eight hits and a pair of walks, while failing to strike out a batter in the loss for SSU.
The Bears jumped to a 1-0 first inning lead in game two, thanks to a one-out single by Katlyn Gleich, a double by Koch and a run-scoring hit by Tara Duncan.
Rio Grande rallied in the home half of the second, though, getting back-to-back, two-out RBI singles off the bats of junior Gabby Gregg (Ashville, OH) and senior Brittany Walk (Unionville Center, OH) to grab a 2-1 lead.
Rio sophomore starter Kacee Jenkins (Jackson, OH) kept the visitors off the scoreboard over her final five innings of work before giving way to Conkey in the seventh.
The Bears got a leadoff pinch-hit single in the seventh from Victoria Bevington, who was promptly bunted into scoring position. The threat died moments later, though, when Conkey retired Gleich on a flyball to left and induced Koch into a game-ending groundout to third base.
Arndt and Nichols finished with two hits each for the RedStorm, while Jenkins earned her fifth win in six decisions.
McKenzie Whittaker started and took the loss for SSU, allowing seven hits and the two runs - both unearned - in a complete game effort.
Koch and Duncan had two hits apiece in a losing cause for the Bears.
Rio Grande returns to action in its regular season finale on Saturday, hosting West Virginia University-Tech for Senior Day.
First pitch for game one of the doubleheader is scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m.