Eagles split day one at Mid-South Classic

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Carson-Newman (10-4) took advantage of Augusta (3-8) errors to win the first game of the day before Tiffin (2-0) got timely two-out hits to take an extra-innings contest from the Eagles in the night cap on the first day of action at the Mid-South Classic at Tyger River Park.

The Eagles won the opener with Augusta 4-2 before Tiffin took a 3-2 decision from the 25th-ranked Eagles in game two. 

"Against Augusta, we hit the ball well, Lacie pitched well and we were able to manufacture runs early," Carson-Newman head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said  "Defense and execution were up there against Augusta. It was a really nice to see us perform well from the outset and score some runs early."

Carson-Newman's loss in extra innings marks a second straight defeat after seven for the Eagles.  C-N lost in the 2017 Southeast Regional to Pfeiffer in nine innings 7-4.  The Eagles haven't won a road or neutral extra-innings contest since taking a 7-5 decision from Tusculum in 10 innings on April 20, 2016. 

"The Tiffin game was one of the best games we've played so far this season, and that makes it a heartbreaker," Kazee-Hollifield said. "We had some opportunities to win it, and did not.  That's what makes it a little more heartbreaking.  They are a complete team with good hitters and good pitching.  I love the fight we showed though.  We won't lose many games with that kind of fight and effort, and I'm proud of  that effort." 

Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) tallied the only multi-hit day for the Eagles. 

Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) went 1-1 in the circle with 10 strikeouts across 13 innings of work.  

Game one: No. 25 Carson-Newman 4, Augusta 2

Carson-Newman pounced on a pair of Augusta miscues to score first and do so in unearned fashion without tallying a hit.  Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) led off the second inning and reached on a fielding error by the Jaguars second baseman. 

KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) successfully dropped down a sacrifice bunt to the third baseman to move Caldwell into scoring position.  Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) came up and grounded out to short.  However, Augusta's first baseman Carolyn Edwards tried to throw to third to get Caldwell who got a late break on the ball.  Her throw was off target and Caldwell was able to trot in for an unearned run that gave C-N a 1-0 lead.

The Eagles took advantage of a third Augusta error in the third to plate two more runs.  A Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) single, followed by a Kennedy Richardson (Elizabethton, Tenn.) sacrifice and an Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) base hit gave the Eagles runners on the corners with one out. 

Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) hit a ground ball to third.  The throw home from Lindsey Stokes sailed and Scott scored on an E5. 

After a Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) singled loaded the bases, Caldwell smashed a ball off the pitcher. It caromed off Courtney Browne to the second baseman for a 1-4-6 fielder's choice, but Fiessinger was able to stride in for another unearned run and a 3-0 lead for the Eagles.

Carson-Newman stuck another run on the board in the fourth inning.  Carson-Newman had Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) on third after she stole second and advanced to third on a ground out.    It was Kennedy Richardson's turn to deliver a clutch base knock with two outs.  She delivered a single to center to extend the Eagles' lead to 4-0. 

Augusta grabbed two unearned runs back in the fifth against C-N reliever Morgan Crawford (Chc.  With two out and runners on first and second following an error at short and a base on balls, Carolyn Edwards delivered a two-out, two-RBI double that she smashed to right center.  After Savannah Gabriel and Rachel Norfleet scored, it made it a 4-2 C-N advantage.

Rinus re-entered in the seventh and retired the Jags in order with a pair of strikeouts and groundout to clinch the win. 

Rinus improved to 6-2 on the season with the win. She pitched five innings of one-hit, shutout ball, striking out six. 

Crawford fired two innings of relief work.  The one hit she allowed produced two unearned runs.  She struck out three.

Courtney Browne took the loss for Augusta to drop to 1-4.  She scattered seven hits and allowed four runs, only one of which was earned.

Game two: Tiffin 3, Carson-Newman 2 (eight innings)

Tiffin grabbed an early lead in the first thanks to some small-ball tactics.  Jamie Sevenish led off the game with a single to right field.  A Brooke Lambert sacrifice moved her over to second base before Sierra Besser-Paul delivered a timely base hit to right to send Tiffin up 1-0 on the Eagles. 

It didn't take long for Carson-Newman to counter.  Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) led off the second with an infield single to short. Following a sacrifice and a strikeout, Caldwell stood on second with Katie Pritchett at the plate (Ringgold, Ga.).  Pritchett powered the game-tying hit to right to score Caldwell from two bases away and level the game at a run apiece. 

Carson-Newman had an opportunity to take the lead in the third, but left two in scoring position.  Sohm walked and stole second to lead off the inning.  Then Kristen  Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) singled to center before moving to second on the throw to give the Eagles two runners in scoring position with one out.  However, a flyout to left and a groundout to third ended C-N's threat.

Tiffin would capitalize on a timely base hit in the sixth.  Besser-Paul walked to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.  With two out, Libby Crow came through in the clutch, roping a double into left center to put Tiffin in front 2-1.

The Eagles had an opportunity to level things up in the bottom of the sixth.  Rinus knocked a one-out single up the middle and moved to second on a Caldwell groundout to third.  Levi came up empty for a potential game-tying hit and flew out to center.

Carson-Newman would break through in the seventh with a clutch hit from Fiessinger. After a leadoff strikeout, Pritchett and Scott knocked back-to-back one-out singles up the middle and through the right side, respectively.  After a pop up, Fiessinger strode to the plate. 

The sophomore knocked a base hit down the left field line to score Valerie Seay (Cross Plain, Tenn.), who was pinch running for Pritchett, to put Carson-Newman even with the Dragons 2-2.  Carson-Newman couldn't get the go-ahead run in though as Toppel hit a deep fly out to the alleyway in right center to end the inning and send the game to extras.      

That tie game would be short-lived thanks to some more two-out hitting from the Dragons.  After a pop up bunt and a strikeout, the Eagles walked Ally Rock to put a force out at first, second and third.  That didn't matter for pinch-hit batter Hayley Kobie. She knocked a base hit to score the international-rule runner Lindsay Graves and put the Dragons up 3-2. 

Carson-Newman couldn't muster similar heroics in the bottom of the eighth.  Toppel represented the Eagles' international-rule runner and was placed on second to start the inning.  The frame started positively enough as Janelle Benzick (Virginia Beach, Va.) dropped down a pinch-hit sacrifice bunt to move Toppel over to third.  The Eagles could never bring her home. 

Caldwell struck out looking before Levi got hit to give the Eagles another two-out baserunner.  However, Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) came up empty on a 3-2 pitch to strike out swinging to end the game.

With the exception of Tiffin's first run, all scoring in the game came with two out. 

Tiffany Snell got the win for the Dragons to start the season 1-0.  She struck out eight and only walked one in her eight innings of work.  Half of her strikeouts got the Eagles looking.

Lacie Rinus took the loss for the Eagles to drop to 6-3.  She scattered nine hits on the day with a pair of walks and four punchouts. One of the three runs the Dragons scored on her was unearned. 


The Eagles return to action in the Mid-South Classic Saturday with games against UNC Pembroke and Mount Olive.


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