RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande softball team banged out a season-high 12 hits, including five that went for extra bases, en route to its first win of the season - an 8-2 triumph over Bluefield (Va.) College in the opening game of a Mid-South Conference doubleheader, Thursday afternoon, at Rio Softball Park.
The Rams avoided a sweep by holding on for a 5-4 victory - their first as a member of the MSC - in the nightcap.
Senior Kaylee Walk and freshman Courtney Shriver both had two hits and two RBIs in the game one win for Rio Grande, while freshman Kimberly Rollins and sophomore Haley Gwin also had two hits and senior Katie Fuller drove in two runs.
Freshman Kimber Hazlett scattered four hits and walked two while striking out a career-high eight batters to get the win in the pitcher’s circle.
The RedStorm grabbed a 2-0 first inning lead thanks to a run-scoring groundout by Fuller and an RBI single by Fuller and added three more runs in the second.
Walk highlighted the three-run second with a two-run inside-the-park home run and Fuller added a run-scoring triple to right after sophomore Jessi Robinson followed up Walk’s home run with an opposite field double down the left field line.
Bluefield got a two-run single from Jessica Dutka in the fourth inning to make it 5-2, but Rio tacked on a pair of runs in the fifth and another marker in the sixth to set the final score.
Shriver had an RBI single in the fifth and an RBI double in the sixth.
Kourtney McGrady had two of Bluefield’s four hits, while Aline Uehara started and took the loss.
In the nightcap, the Rams took advantage of four Rio errors to score three unearned runs and build a 5-1 lead before being forced to hang on for dear life down the stretch to secure the win.
Heather Thomas’ RBI single in the first gave BC a 1-0 lead, but the RedStorm tied the game in the bottom of the inning on a run-scoring hit by senior Kaitie Stewart.
The Rams tacked on three runs in the second and another run in the fourth against Stewart, though, to take a 5-1 advantage.
Dutka and Uehara sandwiched RBI singles around a dropped flyball that allowed another run to score in the second, while a while an error, a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch produced the fourth inning marker.
Rio Grande started the road back in the home half of the fourth when Gwin homered to left and an infield single by Walk scored Hazlett - who had doubled - to make it 5-3.
The RedStorm pulled to within a run in the sixth when Hazlett led off with a triple to deep right-center and scored on a one-out single by freshman Claudia Farney, but Farney was stranded in scoring position representing the would-be tying run.
Rio also threatened in its final at bat in the seventh by putting runners at first and second with two outs, but Uehara retired Hazlett on a comebacker to the mound to close out the victory.
Megan Meismer started and got the win for the Rams, while Uehara pitched the final three innings to earn a save.
Dutka, McGrady and Meismer all had two hits in the win for BC, while Dutka also scored three times.
Hazlett doubled twice and triple for the RedStorm, while Robinson, Stewart and Gwin all had two hits each.
Stewart allowed eight hits and five runs - only two of which were earned - over five innings in suffering the loss.
The twinbill was originally scheduled to be played in Bluefield, but was moved to Rio Grande as a result of wet grounds. The RedStorm will now visit Bluefield on April 9.
Rio is back in action on Thursday afternoon when the University of Pikeville visits for an MSC doubleheader. First pitch for game one is at 2 p.m.