On a historic night under the lights at Ken White Softball Field, the Reinhardt College softball team captured the outright Appalachian Athletic Conference regular season championship by sweeping an AAC doubleheader with the visiting Bluefield College Lady Rams. Reinhardt, which received 76 votes in this week's NAIA poll to rank tied for 28th nationally, won the first game 10-1 and the second 8-0 behind Alex Riccardi's no-hitter.
The Lady Eagles, under third-year head coach Glen Crawford, were picked to finish in fifth place in the conference's preseason coaches' poll. The title is the school's first as a member of the AAC and the first in the six-year history of the softball program. With the victories over Bluefield, Reinhardt extended its winning streak to a season-best nine games and earned the top seed at the AAC Championship tournament.
In the opener, the Lady Eagles scored once in the first inning and five times in the second, building a 6-0 lead. The Lady Rams pushed a run across in the top of the third inning before Reinhardt had a four-run fourth. The contest ended in the middle of the fifth inning due to the eight-run mercy rule.
The Lady Eagles outhit Bluefield 10-4 and each team committed an error. The Lady Rams left five runners on base and Reinhardt just two.
Andrea Thibaudeau went 2-for-3 with two triples, an RBI and a run scored for Reinhardt while Riccardi was 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Bailey Arnaud finished 1-for-1 with a triple, a sacrifice hit, two RBIs and two runs scored while Ashley Kennedy went 1-for-1 with a walk, two runs scored and two stolen bases. Freshman Kimber Beard provided a pinch-hit, RBI single while Kelsey Floyd ended 1-for-2 with a run scored. Freshman Lindsey Booker singled, drove in a run and scored another while Cali Lovett had a hit and scored a run. Haley Williams contributed an RBI with a sacrifice fly.
In the circle for the Lady Eagles, freshman Maddie Monroe threw a complete game for the win. Over five innings, she gave up four hits and an unearned run with six strikeouts and one walk.
Reinhardt jumped out to a 7-0 advantage in the second contest with five runs in the first inning and two in the third. The hosts tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth inning, ending the game on a wild pitch.
The Lady Eagles collected 11 hits while Bluefield managed just two base runners, both reaching on errors. Reinhardt left four runners on base, compared to two for the guests. The Lady Rams made one error.
Riccardi pitched all five innings with eight strikeouts and no walks in recording the victory for the Lady Eagles. She is the third different Reinhardt pitcher to throw a no-hitter this season, joining Monroe and Floyd, who tossed perfect games.
Offensively for the Lady Eagles, Floyd was 2-for-3 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored while Lovett had two hits in three at-bats with two RBIs and a run scored. Sarah Brown went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored and an RBI while Williams finished 2-for-3 and scored once. Beard knocked in a run after a 1-for-2 performance while Kennedy also singled in two at-bats. Thibaudeau chipped in with a hit and a run scored.
Reinhardt is having its best season ever at 35-8 overall and is 13-1 in the AAC while Bluefield falls to 5-19 overall, including 0-12 in conference play. The Lady Eagles host a non-conference doubleheader with the Truett-McConnell College Lady Bears on Thursday at 4 p.m.
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