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UVa-Wise splits softball doubleheader with Rio Grande

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Visiting UVa-Wise and host Rio Grande split a Mid-South Conference softball doubleheader at Rio Softball Park on Tuesday. The host RedStorm overcame a two run deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning in game one to capture a 4-3 victory before the Cavaliers held off a late rally to post a 10-7 win in game two.

Rio Grande (15-8, 4-6 MSC) trailed by two and was down to its final out in the opener before Mattie Lanham lined a two RBI single to score Haley Gwin and Kimberly Rollins to tie the game. One hitter later, Kaylee Walk tripled to score Lanham to complete the RedStorm comeback.

From a UVa-Wise (17-14, 7-5 MSC) standpoint, it would be a game of missed opportunities. The Cavaliers stranded 10 runners on base in the loss, including leaving the bases loaded in the game's opening inning. Karen Bitter's club got on the board and took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Christina Ziemba tripled to lead off the inning and scored on an error by Lanham. UVa-Wise extended its lead to three in the top of the sixth, Ziemba doubled in Rachel Fischer who had previously walked. The Cavs scored a second run on an infield single by Sarah Wiltshire that plated Kirsten Velazquez.

In the circle, UVa-Wise's Hawks struck out nine without allowing a walk in suffering the loss. The right hander allowed six hits in her 6.2 innings of work allowing four runs, three of which were earned as her record dropped to 9-8 on the year. Rio Grande's Kimberly Hazlett improved to 10-5 on the season by striking out seven and allowing three runs in the complete game effort.

Game two saw the two schools combine for eight runs over the first two innings. Rio Grande scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning as Gwin had a two-RBI triple and Hazlett had an RBI sacrifice fly. A half inning later, UVa-Wise scored five runs on five hits and took advantage of two errors to take the lead. The action started with two outs in the inning, Mindy Combs lined a single and scored one batter later on a RedStorm error. Allyssa Zebrowski followed up the miscue by lining a triple to score Fischer. RBI hits by Velazquez and Kristinia Romualdo would be sandwiched around a second Rio Grande error to cap off the five run inning.

The Cavs extended the lead an inning later on a two-run homerun off the bat of Fischer. Fischer's blast gave the visitors a 7-3 lead moving into the fourth inning.

Two innings later, the RedStorm would strike for four runs off Cavalier relief pitching. Using an error, a wild pitch, and a two-run homerun by Ariel Roder Rio Grande tied the game at seven all.

Romualdo answered Roder's two-run shot with a two-run belt of her own a half inning later as UVa-Wise regained the lead 9-7. The visitors would add an insurance run in the top half of the seventh inning on an RBI hit by Ziemba that scored pinch runner Natasha Dean.

Game one starter Hawks worked two perfect innings of relief to earn her first save of the season and Lannie Johnston earned her second win in as many days by working one inning of relief to improve to 2-2 on the year.
Rio Grande's Gwin suffered the loss as she allowed seven hits and three runs in 4.2 innings of work out of the bullpen as her record fell to 2-1.

UVa-Wise will return to action on Thursday when Shawnee State University travels to Cavalier Field for a Mid-South doubleheader. First pitch is slated for 2:00 p.m.

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