VIENNA, W.Va. — University of Rio Grande sophomore Kelsey Conkey was named as the River States Conference’s Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year during an on-field awards ceremony at last weekend’s RSC Softball Tournament at Jackson Memorial Park.
Conkey, a native of Minford, Ohio, was one of eight RedStorm players — four on the first team and four on the second team — named to the All-River States Conference Softball Teams.
Joining Conkey on the first team were senior pitcher Jenna Jones (Lancaster, OH), senior second baseman Alex Stevens (Oak Hill, OH) and freshman shortstop Michaela Criner (Lancaster, OH). Second team honorees included sophomore outfielder Carly Skeese (Newark, OH), senior catcher/outfielder Cheyenne Hamaker (Hilliard, OH), junior catcher/designated player Tayler Arndt (Clyde, OH) and junior third baseman Gabby Gregg (Ashville, OH).
Rio Grande also had Chris Hammond as the RSC Softball Coach of the Year. The second-year head coach has led the RedStorm to a record of 45-8 overall and 17-1 in RSC play, while capturing back-to-back conference tournament and regular-season titles.
Conkey is hitting .333 with 12 home runs and 49 runs batted in. She is second on the club with a .618 slugging percentage and is tied for fourth on the team with nine doubles.
As a pitcher, Conkey has a record of 21-1 with two saves and a 0.87 earned run average in 136.2 innings. The right-hander has struck out 96 and walked 22, while surrendering just a .177 opponent’s batting average and authoring a league-high nine shutouts. She is also tied for sixth nationally in ERA.
Jones is 12-4 with three saves and a 1.79 ERA in 125-1/3 innings. She has four shutouts of her own and the opposition is batting just .199 against the right-hander.
Stevens is hitting .403 with a team-high 46 runs scored and is tied for second on the team in doubles (10), while Criner leads the RedStorm in batting average (.482), hits (68), triples (4), slugging percentage (.667) and on-base percentage (.516).
Skeese is batting .321 with a team-high 13 home runs and 52 runs batted in; Hamaker is hitting .319 with a team-best 12 stolen bases; Arndt is hitting .349 with a team-high 11 doubles; and Gregg is batting .260 with three homers and 27 RBI, while tying for second on the club with 10 doubles.
The All-RSC Softball First Team was comprised of four pitchers, two catchers, five infielders, four outfielders, a designated player and a utility player. The All-RSC Second Team followed a similar pattern and honored 17 players as well.
Joining the Rio Grande quartet on the All-RSC First Team were three players from regular season runner-up – catcher Kelsey Gravens, pitcher Tiffany Wickline and outfielder Carly Benz.
IU Southeast, Point Park, WVU Tech and Cincinnati Christian had two players each on the first team. IU Southeast garnered infielder Emily Hollis and designated player Sydney Seger, while Point Park was represented by pitcher Ashley Iagnemma and first baseman Kim Corcoran and WVU-Tech had outfielder Skyler Connelly and utility player Genna Trippett.
CCU’s honorees included catcher Bailey Blair and outfielder Valerie Hudepohl, with Brescia outfielder Megan Myers and Carlow third baseman Allison Hryadil rounding out the first team.
Gravens received the league’s Newcomer of the Year award as a transfer from now-defunct St. Catharine’s College. She hit .438 with a league-high 15 homers and finished second to Skeese with 49 RBI.
The conference also named a Champions of Character Team, with one player from each team who best exhibits the NAIA’s five core character values of the respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship named to the list.
Rio Grande’s representative on the CoC team was senior Tiffany Bise (Circleville, OH).
Conkey, who started in all four years of her high school career at Minford, departed the Lady Falcons as one of the most decorated players in the school’s history. The Rio standout hit over .400 in every season of her high school career and improved her ERA from a 2.25 mark as a freshman in 2011 to a mark that sat under 1.00 in her junior and senior seasons.
As a result of those accolades, Conkey obtained First-Team All-SOC and First-Team All-Southeast District selections in each of her four years at Minford. She was an All-State pick in each of her final trio of seasons as a Lady Falcon.