JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (14-6) got clutch hits late to take a doubleheader sweep from Limestone (12-7) Saturday afternoon at The Vickee Kazee-Hollifield Softball Complex.
Carson-Newman took game one 1-0 in eight innings before rallying for a 5-2 decision in the nightcap. The wins snap a four-game losing streak at the hands of the Saints.
In game one, Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) laid down a two-out squeeze bunt to score the only run of the game in the eighth. In the nightcap, Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) pounded a three-run blast in the sixth to cement the win. Lacie Rinus pitched all eight innings of game one to earn the win, and came in relief in game two to grab her second win in as many games.
Game one: Carson-Newman 1, Limestone 0 (eight innings)
Carson-Newman had the ultimate flair for the dramatic in game one against the Saints, winning in walk-off fashion in extra innings for the first time since a 3-2 win over Lincoln Memorial in 2017 and won 1-0 in extra innings for the first time since beating Catawba by that margin in eight innings in 2015.
Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) delivered a gutsy hit to win it for the Eagles in the eighth.
Kennedy Richardson (Elizabethton, Tenn.) was the Eagles international rule runner, and started out the frame on second base. She promptly took third on a passed ball. Following a op up to second, Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) knocked an infield single to short before moving to second.
She would eventually steal second to give the Eagles a pair of base runners in scoring position. After a strikeout, Sohm came to the plate. Facing a 2-1 count, Sohm placed a perfect bunt single up the third base line to help the Eagles end it on a squeeze play. The fleet-of-foot Richardson sprinted home and the Eagles ended it in extras.
"It was executed well and when you have speed on the bases it, what an added dimension it can be," Coach Vickee Hollifield stated. "Michael was saying let's go for it! So as I walked over there we decided to go with it."
Both Carson-Newman and Limetone had chances to break up the shutout, but couldn't get the timely knocks in regulation.
In the fourth, the Eagles had runners on second and third after a Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) double, a Cheyenne Boles (Knoxville, Tenn.) single and a stolen base from the flex player Sohm. However, a strikeout and a groundout to short ended the inning.
In the seventh, Carson-Newman had runners on the corners with one out following singles from Boles and Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.). However, a strikeout and a fielder's prevented Carson-Newman from getting the walk-off in the seventh.
Limestone left two runners on base in the first inning and had the go-ahead run on third in the eighth.
Rinus got the win in the circle for the Eagles to improve to 7-5 on the year. She scattered three hits and struck out six in the extra-innings, complete-game shutout.
Courtney Smith took her first loss of the year in the circle to fall to 7-1. The Eagles got seven hits off her, but Smith struck out eight Eagles without issuing a free pass.
Game two: Carson-Newman 5, Limestone 2
Limestone grabbed a lead in the third aided by a C-N miscue. A walk, a sacrifice and a single through the left side gave the Saints runners on the corners with two out. Ashley Parnell then stole second and moved to third on an error at that bag that allowed Shay Reynolds to come into score.
Emma Swearagin delivered a timely two-out single up the middle to stretch the lead to 2-0.
Carson-Newman scraped across runs in both the bottom of the third and fourth innings to claw back even.
In the bottom of the third, Carson-Newman got a trio of timely two-out singles to draw within a run. Caldwell and Boles both singled to center before Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) ripped one back up the box to plate Caldwell and make the score 2-1.
The Eagles got another run back the next inning thanks to some small ball tactics.
Richardson led off the inning with a walk before taking second on a KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) sacrifice. Richardson then stole third before Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) singled her home with a base hit through the left side to level the score at 2-2.
The Eagles then grabbed the lead for good in the sixth. Singles from Fiessinger and Rinus set the stage for Caldwell. With two out, Caldwell blasted a 1-1 pitch over the fence to give C-N its first two-out home run of the season and a 5-2 lead that it would hold on to for the victory.
Rinus got the win in relief to improve to 8-5. She pitched the final four innings of the game, surrendering four hits with a walk and a strikeout. Morgan Crawford (Chickamauga, Ga.) pitched the first three innings of the game, surrendering one earned run off two hits.
"She threw better in game two today," Coach Hollifield added." Her changeup was working well, and Crawford wasn't bad. There was a couple miscues defensively, but it was a total pitching staff effort today."
Bailey Yarbo took the loss in relief for Limestone for her first decision of the year. She pitched 2.2 innings in relief, giving up four hits and the three-run tank to Caldwell. Josie Weber pitched the first 3.1 innings of the game, allowing six hits and two runs.
"Limestone will finish near the top for their conference and they are a very good team," Hollifield mentioned. "We knew we had our work cut out for us with their speed and pitching. We are really happy to come away with two wins."
The Eagles continue play Monday against USC Aiken. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. Coverage will be available on the Eagles Sports Network online at cneagles.com/live.