JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – No. 20 Carson-Newman (9-3) got some timely two-out hits used some locked in pitching to tally a shutout sweep in a doubleheader over Belmont Abbey (5-7) Tuesday afternoon at Crusader Field.
Carson-Newman took game one 4-0 before clamping things down for a 5-0 win in the nightcap.
The Eagles have now won 16 consecutive against the Crusaders.
"We pitched well today and our defense held up," head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "We did some nice things at the plate today, but there's definitely room for improvement. I was really happy that we got some timely hits today. We're taking baby steps and we're going in the right direction. If this team puts it all together, they have the chance to be something special."
Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) provided a massive spark at the plate for the Eagles. The junior picked up a pair of multi-hit days, went 5-for-6 at the plate, drove in four runs and hit her second home run of the season. Cooper slugged a mere 1.500 for the twinbill.
"It was great for Coop, and we had people on base in front of her," Kazee-Hollifield said. "She really came to play today. She saw the ball well and tagged it all day long."
Meanwhile, Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Morgan Crawford (Chickamauga, Ga.) both twirled dandies in the circle. Rinus collected a one-hit shutout, the 13th compete game shutout of her career, Crawford a two-hit shutout, the second complete-game shutout of her career. Defensively, the Eagles played well behind the duo with only one error on the day
"They played the short-game well with tons of speed and slappers," Kazee-Hollifield said. "I was really pleased with how we handled those situations as an infield."
Carson-Newman only allowed four Belmont Abbey base runners into scoring position, two in each game. The Crusaders were 0-for-17 at the plate with runners on base.
Meanwhile, the Eagles got timely two-out hits. Of C-N's nine runs in the doubleheader, six came with two out. Furthermore, three of Cooper's four RBI were with two out.
Game one: No. 20 Carson-Newman 4, Belmont Abbey 0
Carson-Newman missed some opportunities early, but pounced on the Crusaders late to grab the game one win.
The Eagles left runners in scoring position in the fourth and fifth inning before taking advantage of a Crusader miscue in the sixth to break through.
Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) and Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) got the inning started with singles to left and center, respectively. After a fielder's choice, the Eagles got two in scoring position on a passed ball. A one-out walk to KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) loaded the bases.
After a pop up to second, Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) came to the plate. She laid down a swinging bunt with everyone playing the power-hitting senior back. Belmont Abbey catcher Claire Doyle missed home plate trying to apply the tag to Rinus coming home and the Eagles grabbed a 1-0 lead on the error on the catcher.
C-N would make the Crusaders pay for the miscue a batter later. Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) poked one to center field to score Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) and Levi for two more unearned runs, stretching the lead to 3-0.
Carson-Newman got an insurance run in the seventh. Toppel worked a one out walk and stole second to get into scoring position for Rinus. The sophomore drove in Toppel with a base knock to center, stretching the lead to 4-0.
Belmont Abbey did get the tying run into the on-deck circle in the seventh. The Crusaders had a pair of baserunners reach on walks. However, Rinus got a fly out and a ground out to short to end the threat and preserve the one-hit shutout.
Rinus got her fourth shutout of the year in one-hit fashion to improve to 5-2 on the year. She issued a season-high five free passes and struck out five.
Annabeth Watkins took the loss in the circle for the Crusaders. She allowed five hits to fall to 2-4. All three of the runs that scored against Watkins were unearned. Watkins didn't strike anyone out and walked four.
Ivorie Maltby pitched the final inning for BAC, she gave up a hit and a run.
Game two: No. 20 Carson-Newman 5, Belmont Abbey 0
Carson-Newman had an opportunity in the second fly by the wayside. Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) and Cooper both nailed down two-out singles before Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) reached on an error at second to load the bases. Carson-Newman couldn't take advantage of the situation as Boles grounded into a fielder's choice to second to leave them juiced.
Carson-Newman got another look at some runs in the third. Fiessinger and Toppel both walked to open up the frame and give the Eagles two runners with no outs. A Rinus fielder's choice retired the lead runner Fiessinger before a wild pitch moved the duo into scoring position.
After a ground out to third, Levi came to the plate with a definitive RBI opportunity. The sophomore provided a clutch two-out base knock, ripping a two-RBI single down the right field line to put the Eagles up 2-0.
The Eagles extended their lead in the sixth with Cooper again. She belted her second home run of the season to straight away center field to push the lead to 3-0.
Cooper came through in the clutch again in the seventh. After a groundout to open the frame, Rinus got plunked and Caldwell singled to center to give C-N a pair of base runners.
After a fly out to center, Pritchett produced her second two-out base hit of the day. Pritchett dropped in a single to center to drive in Rinus. Caldwell moved over to third on the play thanks to a fielding error on the centerfielder.
Then Cooper struck for her fourth RBI of the series. The junior drove a ball to left for a base hit to plate Caldwell and stretch the Eagles' lead to 5-0.
There would be no drama for the Crusaders in the seventh. They got a one-out double, but Morgan Crawford (Chickamauga, Ga.) induced a pair of groundouts to the hot corner to notch the complete game victory.
Crawford improved to 4-1 in the circle with the triumph, a two-hit shutout and her first seven-inning complete-game shutout of her career. She struck out two and walked one.
Chance Helms got the start and took the loss for Belmont Abbey. She worked the first three innings of the game, allowing three hits and two runs. Maltby relieved her for 3.2 innings of work. She allowed three runs, two earned. Watkins got the final out of the game for the Crusaders.
The Eagles head to Spartanburg next for the Mid-South Classic. Carson-Newman will take on UNC Pembroke, Tiffin, Mount Olive and Augusta in the two-day event Friday and Saturday.