Conkey, Koch star in SSU-Rio series

Staff Report

Shawnee State softball’s slump reached six games on Tuesday afternoon when the Bears were swept by No. 19 Rio Grande (Ohio) in a doubleheader, 5-0 in game one and 2-1 in game two.

Shawnee State’s offense continued to struggle as the Bears could not muster anything against Rio Grande starter and Minford native Kelsey Conkey. Conkey, who improved to 17-1 on the year, threw a complete game shutout and allowed no runs on only two hits and striking out five in seven innings.

Rio Grande opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning behind MacKenzie Nichols’ single to left field with one out and Kari Jenkins’ single, which drove in Nichols with a RBI double to give Rio Grande the lead.

The Red Storm blew the game open in the bottom of the third with four runs. Michaela Criner led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on Alex Stevens’ groundout to short. After a Carly Skeese pop-out, Tayler Arndt reached on a walk, and Conkey helped her own cause by tripling to left center, scoring both runners. Nichols followed Conkey with a RBI single and scored one batter later on Hamaker’s RBI double.

Conkey obtained the win behind her complete game shutout performance on the mound. Brooke Blevins (FR/Frankfort, Ohio) allowed five runs on eight hits in six innings to take the loss.

Shawnee State took an early lead in game two by scoring in the top of the first. Katlyn Gleich (SO/Grove City, Ohio) singled to left with one out and reached third on Kayla Koch (JR/Lucasville, Ohio)’s double. Tara Duncan (SR/Lancaster, Ohio) then drove in Gleich with a RBI single to right field, but Shawnee State stranded runners on the corners to end the inning.

Rio Grande made the Bears pay for not scoring more runs by taking the lead in the bottom of the second. Tayler Arndt led off with a single, and Conkey would lay down a bunt, with both runners reaching on a wild throw by SSU pitcher McKenzie Whittaker (SO/McDermott, Ohio). Cheyenne Hamaker then moved both runners over with a bunt two batters later. With two outs, Gabby Gregg and Brittany Walk notched back-to-back RBI singles to give Rio Grande the lead, which they would not relinquish.

Kacee Jenkins allowed only one run on seven hits in six innings to get the win. McKenzie Whittaker went the distance for Shawnee State, allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings to take the loss. Kelsey Conkey threw a scoreless seventh to obtain the save — her second of the year.

The losses drop Shawnee State’s record to 23-22 as the Bears conclude the regular season. Rio Grande improves to 39-7.

Shawnee State softball will get the Mid-South Conference Tournament started on Friday, April 28th when they take on Pikeville at 12 p.m. EST/11 a.m. CST. The Bears will then play a second game on Friday, with a win over Pikeville getting them a match-up with Lindsey Wilson at 5 p.m. EST/4 p.m. CST, and a loss dropping them to a 7:30 p.m. EST/6:30 p.m. CST start with an as yet to be determined opponent.

Staff Report