TIGERVILLE, S.C. – Hits with runners in scoring position were tough for Carson-Newman (4-2) to come by in a Tuesday afternoon doubleheader at North Greenville (4-2) and Jan McDonald Field.
The Eagles went 1-for-24 with runners in scoring position en route to a doubleheader split with the Crusaders. The Eagles won game one on the back of a Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) two-hit shutout before the Crusaders used a mammoth second inning to take the night cap 7-1.
"We've got to fight better when we're at the plate," head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "We're cheating ourselves out of quality at-bats and we absolutely have to put a stop to that."
Rinus carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning in game one before tallying the Eagles' lone hit of the day with a runner on second or third to drive in the go-ahead runs in the fifth.
"You cannot say about Lacie's effort everywhere on the field," Kazee-Hollifield said. "If we can all play like that, we'll be in good shape. She was highly effective on the mound. She played good defense and she brought her bat."
Rinus was 3-for-4 at the plate on the twinbill with a multi-hit, multi-RBI game in game one and four walks sprinkled in throughout the doubleheader.
Both she and Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) extended their hitting streaks out to six games to open up the season. Fiessinger tallied a multi-hit day in game two.
"The nice thing about this is is that we get to play again in two days," Kazee-Hollifield said. "We need to play period. We need to see pitches, we need to see the field, and I'm glad we get to do that against King in two days."
North Greenville's six-run margin in the nightcap was their biggest win in series history. The Eagles' lead the all-time ledger 21-3.
Game one: Carson-Newman 3, North Greenville 0
Carson-Newman had the game's opening scoring chance in the top of the fourth. Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) knocked singles to left and to center, respectively.
Then, Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) worked a nine-pitch, two-out walk to load the bases.
However, Cheyenne Boles (Knoxville, Tenn.) popped out to right center field to end the threat and the inning, keeping the contest scoreless.
The Eagles would break free an inning later. Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) nipped a ball down the right field line for a base hit. Following a Toppel K, Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) dropped a base hit to left to give the Eagles a pair of base runners with two out.
Rinus delivered the clutch extra-base hit. She drilled the first pitch she saw into the alley way in left center to score both Fiessinger and Caldwell and put Carson-Newman in front 2-0.
Carson-Newman juiced the bases in the seventh looking to add to its 2-0 lead. Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) started off the frame with a single to straight away center before stealing second. Caldwell reached on an error by the second baseman to give the Eagles runners on the corners before Caldwell swiped second.
Rinus then loaded the bases on a five-pitch walk. Levi got the insurance run by wearing the first pitch she saw on her right forearm, that scored Toppel and extended the Eagles' lead to 3-0. North Greenville pitcher Amanda Coffrin got a lineout from Cooper and a strikeout from Boles to end the frame and keep the deficit to three.
Rinus then struck out the side to polish off the victory to improve to 2-1 on the year. Rinus didn't allow a North Greenville player to make it to second base and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Brooke Wade hit a bloop single to right. Rinus finished the day with nine strikeouts against two walks.
Coffrin took her first loss of the year to fall to 2-1 after giving up her first earned runs on the season. She gave up eight hits, walked three and fanned nine. All three runs she allowed were earned.
Game two: North Greenville 7, Carson-Newman 1
North Greenville threatened and delivered in the second inning with two runners in scoring position and one out.
A Kate Lee single up the middle and a Grace DeBoer walk gave the Crusaders two base runners. Cassidy North laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Lee and DeBoer into scoring position.
Haley Gray delivered with a bases-clearing double to the gap in left center.
Brooklyn Stone then laid down a perfectly placed bunt that shot the gap to the right of the circle and past the first baseman to plate Gray and make it 3-0. Wade followed that with an RBI single up the gut to extend the lead to 4-0 with only one out on the board.
When the dust cleared, the Crusaders had a 7-0 lead on the Eagles that would be more than enough to hold up as the Eagles struggled to get timely hits.
It wasn't until the fifth that Carson-Newman got a run back. Fiessinger and Toppel had one-out base hits up the middle and to right. Rinus worked a two-out walk to load the bases before Levi collected an RBI with a five-pitch walk, making it 7-1. Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) flew out to right to leave the bases juiced.
Carson-Newman left runners on base in the final six innings of the game and had 11 stranded total for the contest.
Morgan Crawford took the loss for the Eagles after allowing the first earned runs of her Carson-Newman career. She falls to 2-1 after a 1.1-inning outing where she gave up five hits and five runs. Valerie Seay (Cross Plain, Tenn.) made her first career appearance in the circle in relief. Seay went the final 4.2 innings. She scattered four hits and gave up two runs. Seay retired nine of the final 10 batters she faced.
Jaelin Griffin got the victory for NGU to improve to 1-1 on the year. She scattered seven hits in 5.1 innings, striking out five and walking four. Brooklyn Fort finished the game off with 1.2 innings of shutout, one-hit ball.
The Eagles return to the Vickee Kazee-Hollifield Softball Complex Thursday at 1 p.m. to take on the King Tornado. Coverage of the doubleheader will be available on the Eagle Sports Network online at cneagles.com/live.