The Carlow softball team recorded a signature win, not only for the season, but for the program, Saturday, April 22, at Fairhaven Park.
The Celtics knocked off No. 19 Rio Grande on Senior Day, ending the RedStorm’s 26-game winning streak and handing the No. 1 team in the RSC its first conference loss and its first loss since March 10.
In Game 1, the RedStorm (37-7, 15-1 RSC) scored five runs before the Celtics recorded an out, and Carlow (13-13-1, 4-10 RSC) suffered a 12-0 loss in five innings. But Game 2 was a different story.
Allison Hryadil (SR/Kennedy Township, Pa.) blasted a game-winning 3-run home run and the Celtics scored seven runs on seven hits and two Rio Grande errors in the bottom of the sixth inning to come from behind for a 10-7 victory.
Hryadil led the Celtics offensively all weekend, batting .667 in four games against the RedStorm and WVU Tech. She and eight other seniors — Natalie Bashada (Belle Vernon, Pa.), Sydney Greece (Vandergrift, Pa.), Hayley Klein (Carnegie, Pa.), Molly Patsch (Rochester, Pa.), Marla Small (West Mifflin, Pa.), Haley Stedeford (Glenshaw, Pa.), Breezy Weaver (York, Pa.) and Kenzie Young (Leechburg, Pa.) — were celebrated for their contributions to the program.
During their four-year careers, Carlow has posted a 94-65 overall record so far, finished runner-up in the USCAA in 2016 and third in the USCAA in 2015, and taken third place in the RSC in 2015 and 2016.
In Game 2 against Rio Grande on Saturday, a second-inning solo home run by Kelsey Conkey put the RedStorm on the board first.
The Celtics tied it up in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Hryadil doubled and Young scored her with an infield single. RedStorm ace Jenna Jones relieved starter Tiffany Bise and worked out of the inning stranding two Carlow runners in scoring position.
Rio Grande immediately regained the lead in the fifth inning, when Michaela Criner singled and a Carlow error prolonged the inning long enough for Cheyenne Hamaker’s sacrifice fly to score her.
However, the RedStorm defense allowed two unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth. Stedeford singled, advanced on a passed ball, and then scored on an error. Abby Tatgenhorst (FR/Byesville, Ohio) doubled to drive in Kelsey Geyer (JR/East Pittsburgh, Pa.), who reached on a fielder’s choice, giving Carlow its first lead of the game, 3-2.
In the sixth inning, Carlow pitcher Nicole Hall (JR/Jeannette, Pa.) was relieved by Caitlyn Suter (FR/Monaca, Pa.). Suter earned two quick outs, but walked Taylor Arndt. Mackenzie Nichols singled to score Arndt’s pinch runner Kelly Fuchs, tying the game at 3.
The inning should have ended on the next play, but a Carlow error allowed the go-ahead run to score. Two walks and a pair of doubles by Brittany Walk and Alex Stevens followed, and Rio Grande scored five runs to take a 7-3 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Still, the Celtics did not quit.
Bashada and Stedeford earned back-to-back one-out singles, and Small drew a walk to load the bases. Ashley Hoak (FR/Elizabeth, Pa.) hit a hard ground ball that was misplayed by the Rio Grande infield, allowing Bashada and Stedeford to score.
Kacee Jenkins, the winning pitcher from Game 1 who had held Carlow to just two hits in four innings of work, came on in relief of Jones. But this time, the Celtics were ready for her.
Geyer welcomed Jenkins with an RBI-single to put the Celtics within one run, trailing 7-6. That’s when Hryadil went deep to center field, giving the Celtics a 9-7 lead. Before the inning was over, Young singled and then scored when a Levato single slipped past the RedStorm outfield and rolled to the fence.
Hall returned to the circle for the final inning to pick up the save. She coaxed a fly ball handled by Young in centerfield and walked the dangerous Donkey before Small, Geyer and Levato turned a nifty 4-6-3 double play to finish the game.
Hall kept the powerful RedStorm offense off-balanced for six innings, allowing two runs, one earned run, four hits and one walk. Suter earned the win, allowing five runs, one earned run and three walks in one inning.
The Celtics next play Monday, April 24, at Penn State Beaver.