Jones narrowly misses no-hitter as Rio sweeps Bluefield

Randy Payton Special to OVP

March 24, 2014

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Jenna Jones came within one out of throwing a second consecutive no-hitter, helping the University of Rio Grande to an opening game win and a doubleheader sweep of Bluefield (Va.) College, Saturday afternoon, in Mid-South Conference softball action.

The RedStorm, who completed a perfect four-game weekend road trip with the sweep, improved to 14-7 overall and 9-5 in the MSC.

Head coach Kristen Bradshaw’s squad finished the day in a tie with Georgetown for third place in the league standings.

Bluefield slipped to 2-24 overall and 1-15 against conference foes with the two losses.

Jones, a freshman from Lancaster, Ohio, who threw Rio’s first no-hitter in nearly five years against the University of Pikeville on Friday, pitched 6-2/3 innings of no-hit ball against the Rams on Saturday.

In fact, she allowed only one baserunner through the first 6-2/3 innings on Saturday. The only blemish was hitting Kattie Evans with a pitch to begin the home fourth inning.

But, one out away from a second straight milestone, Morgan Stephens delivered a clean single to break up the no-hit bid.

Jones rebounded, though, retiring Natasha Smith on a groundout to second to end the game.

Rio Grande, which had just six hits itself against BC starter Brienna Sparks, pushed across single markers in the first and third innings for the win.

Jones helped her own cause with a two-out single in the first to plate junior Jessi Robinson (Wilmington, OH), who had reached on a one-out double.

In the third inning, freshman Cheyenne Hamaker (Hilliard, OH) led off with a double and eventually scored on a groundout by sophomore Kim Rollins (Cincinnati, OH). Hamaker finished with two hits.

Game two saw the RedStorm forced to come from behind after squandering a four-run third inning lead.

The Rams scored four times in the home third to tie it, but Rio pushed across what proved to be the game-winner in the sixth.

Rio’s four-run third started after Bluefield starter Aline Uehara had routinely retired each of the first two batters.

Rollins clubbed her sixth home run of the year to make it 1-0 before Jones and sophomore Ariel Roder (Parma Heights, OH) drew consecutive walks, setting the stage for a two-run double by junior Haley Gwin (Troy, OH). Freshman Kari Jenkins (Jackson, OH) plated Gwin with a single to make it 4-0.

However, Bluefield came off the mat against Rio freshman starter Tiffany Bise (Circleville, OH) in the home third.

Kasey Holcomb led off with a single, but was gunned down at the plate trying to score on a double by Smith. Uehara then walked before Stephens delivered an RBI single to make it 4-1.

One out later, Kristen Hylton singled home Uehara and Kiki Jones followed with a two-run single to tie the game at 4-4.

That’s how things stayed until the Rio Grande sixth when freshman Alex Kuhn (Oak Hill, OH) led off with a double, moved to third on a groundout by Hamaker and scored when sophomore pinch-hitter Mattie Lanham’s (Rio Grande, OH) grounder to third was errored.

Jones, who improved to 8-5 with the game one win, came on in relief of Bise and pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh for her first save of the year.

Bise allowed nine hits and the four runs over five innings. She also fanned five, improving to 6-2 on the season.

Rollins and Jenkins finished with two hits each in the victory for the RedStorm.

Holcomb, Uehara and Stephens all had two hits in the loss for Bluefield.

Rio Grande returns to action on Tuesday afternoon when West Virginia Tech visits Rio Softball Park for a doubleheader rescheduled from an earlier snowout.