Levi’s bat, Webster and Rinus’ arms power Carson-Newman to sweep at King

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (6-2) received stellar outings in the circle from pitchers Allison Webster (Charleston, Ind.) and Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), while KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) delivered a timely hit to propel the Eagles to a sweep of King (0-4) Saturday afternoon at the King Softball Complex.

The Eagles took game one 8-2 before delivering the broomstick victory with a 2-0 win in the nightcap. 

"One word, sums up today – pitching," head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said.  "Alli was just flawless the first four innings.  They both had total command of their pitches.  They both worked ahead in the count and fought to get the first out of every inning."

Rinus and Webster combined to allow eight hits on the day with 12 strikeouts.  Only one of the runs that King scored on the day was earned. 

Meanwhile, Levi picked up the bat for Carson-Newman.  The freshman delivered the go-ahead run batted in for the Eagles in both games.  She went 5-for-9 at the plate, with a four-hit game in game one.  Levi finished with three RBI. 

Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) also produced a four-hit day for the Eagles.  Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) belted the second and third homers of her career and drove in three.

Still, Kazee-Hollifield saw issues for the Eagles to address.  

"We left too many base runners out there," Kazee-Hollifield said.  "The other thing we need to do is string together back-to-back hits."

The Eagles left 19 runners stranded on the day and went 5-for-22 at the plate with runners on second or third. C-N was a paltry 1-for-10 in game two.

The wins put Kazee-Hollifield at 1,098 for her career.  She can become the 19th head softball coach to reach the 1,100-win plateau Tuesday against UVA-Wise.

Game one: Carson-Newman 8, King 2

Carson-Newman wasted little time cracking the scoreboard.  Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) got the party started with a one-out single to left.  She moved to second on a ground out and came in to score when KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) nipped a ball to left. 

The Eagles weren't done though.  Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) singled to center to bring around Levi and extend the lead to 2-0.  Back-to-back walks for Allison Webster (Charlestown, Ind.) and Erin Stanley (Coeburn, Va.) loaded the bases and brought in a run, respectively.  

A strikeout ended the inning with the bases loaded. 

King got an unearned run back in the home half of the first.  Hannah Riddle singled to center, but Rinus misplayed the ball and Riddle was able to scamper in from three bases away.  Webster tallied back-to-back punchouts to end the inning for the Eagles.

Carson-Newman again loaded the bases in the second inning with a hit batter, a Toppel base hit to center and a Levi single to center with one out.  This time it was Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) who came through in the clutch. The junior delivered a sacrifice fly to right to bring Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) in to score.

The Eagles wouldn't score again until the fifth.  Fiessinger lifted the first pitch of an at bat over the wall for her second career dinger.  The two-run bomb extended the Eagles' lead to 6-1. 

King would get a run back in the fifth.  With a pair of runners in scoring position thanks to a wild pitch, Hayley Smothers hit a deep fly ball to left.  Jordan Wertz was able to corral it, but the ball was hit deep enough for Kaycee Casteel to tag up and score.  That brought the Tornado within four.

The Eagles pushed the lead back to five when Fiessinger connected on her second home run of the day.  She took a 2-2 pitch over the wall in right center with two out to extend the lead to 7-2 in the top of the seventh.

C-N manufactured another run in the frame with Toppel.  She followed Fiessinger's dinger with a base hit to center. Toppel promptly swiped second, then moved to third on an error at short. 

Janelle Benzick (Virginia Beach, Va.) then delivered a pinch-hit RBI with a single up the gut, which extended the Eagles lead to 8-2. 

Webster snagged the win for the Eagles to move to 3-1.  She went the complete game with three walks allowed against eight strikeouts. 

Hayley Smothers took the L for the Tornado.  She tossed 167 pitches, gave up 15 hits and walked four. 

Game two: Carson-Newman 2, King 0

Carson-Newman got all the runs it needed in the third.  Walks for Benzick and Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) sandwiched around a Fiessinger single to left loaded the bases for the Eagles with two out.  Levi came through with the clutch hit on a single to center that plated Fiessinger and Benzick. 

Rinus then retired the next 15 in order to secure the win. 

Rinus improves to 3-1 on the year.  She gave up two hits and didn't walk a batter on the day.  She only struck out three, retiring seven players on fly outs and 10 via groundouts.

Emma Hughes took the loss for the Tornado.  She drops to 0-2 after allowing the two runs in her 4.0 inning outing.  Morgan Matthews allowed three hits in three innings of relief.

The Eagles return to action Tuesday at the Vick against UVA-Wise. First pitch against the Cavs is slated for 1 p.m.  Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network with a free high definition video stream at cneagles.com/live.