VIDEO: Lacie Rinus Interview
VIDEO: Abby Fiessinger Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (16-6) did something it had never done in 15 previous meetings with USC Aiken (6-12) Monday afternoon at the Vickee Kazee-Hollifield Softball Complex.
The Eagles run-ruled the Pacers twice, with twin 8-0 scores, to sweep their first doubleheader against the Pacers since 2013. The eight-run margin is the biggest margin of victory for either team in series history.
"We had nice patience today," head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "We were selective on good pitches and were aggressive when we got those pitches. They executed well today."
Carson-Newman went 11-for-18 at the plate through the doubleheader with runners in scoring position. The frequent timely hits have provided Carson-Newman with a five-game winning streak, it's longest of the year.
"I've enjoyed coaching them in March," Kazee-Hollifield said. "We weren't a lot of fun in February. But March has been fun. They look like they've been having fun playing good disciplined ball these past two weeks. We'll be good as long as we can keep that in the forefront."
Multiple Eagles performed well at the plate. Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) reached base successfully all seven times she came to the dish. She rapped out five hits with two doubles and three RBI. She had a career-best four-hit day in game one.
Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) was 6-for-8 at the plate with a home run and four runs batted in, while Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) tallied two more multi hit days and finished 4-of-6 at the dish with three RBI.
The Eagles were equally as impressive in the circle. Rinus and Morgan Crawford (Chichamauga, Ga.) worked one-hit and three-hit shutouts, respectively. Rinus carried a perfect game into the fifth inning. The Eagles hurlers combined to face the minimum in nine out of 11 innings pitched on the afternoon.
"Pitching has been our strong suit and we saw that today," Kazee-Hollifield said. "We've grown accustomed to seeing those performances from her, but it doesn't diminish how hard she works. I was glad Morgan got into some jams and figured how to get out of them. Those are good experiences for her to have before we get into conference play."
Game one: Carson-Newman 8, USC Aiken 0 (six innings)
Carson-Newman got timely base knocks with runners in scoring position to grab a lead early in game one. Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) led off the game with a single through the left side before moving to second on a Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) sacrifice bunt.
Lacie Rinus (Mufreesboro, Tenn.) came through with a one-out knock, a double to right center, to plate Fiessinger.
Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) kept the merry-go-round rolling with two out. She blooped a ball into right allowing Rinus to race home and send C-N up 2-0.
Carson-Newman extended its lead to 3-0 in bizarre fashion in the next inning. With two outs, Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) laid down a bunt back to the circle. Aiken pitcher Lyndie Dorgan threw wide of the bag at first. The ball rattled around along the right field fence and Sohm used her outrageous speed to score on the throwing error by the pitcher.
The Eagles added to their lead in the fifth inning. Sohm walked to lead off the inning, then swiped her fifth bag of the year, stealing second. Fiessinger singled through the right side of the infield to plate Sohm and extend the lead to 4-0. She advanced to second on the throw, then came home when Rinus roped a single into center. Rinus' second RBI made it a 5-0 lead for the Eagles.
Carson-Newman ended it via the run-rule in the sixth in walk-off fashion,
Carson-Newman scored the final three runs with two outs. Fiessinger delivered the first off a single up the middle.
Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) reached on a muffed throw at first base that saw Cooper come across for an unearned run. Rinus then ended it with her fourth hit of the day, squeezing a single inside the first base bag to score Levi and hand C-N its third run-rule win of the season.
Rinus got the win in the circle. She worked a one-hit shutout. She was perfect through the first batters she faced before Chandler Terrapin hit a leadoff single through the left side in the fifth. She was Aiken's only base runner on the day.
Rinus improved to 9-5 with the win. She struck out six.
Lyndie Dorgan took the loss for Aiken, dropping to 2-5. She allowed four hits and three runs, two of which were earned.
Game two: Carson-Newman 8, USC Aiken 0 (eight innings)
Carson-Newman again lit the lamp first in game two with a three-run opening frame. The start of the inning had a similar script to game one with a Fiessinger leadoff single and a Toppel sacrifice.
Rinus walked and Caldwell got hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Pritchett took advantage of the situation with a line drive to right that plated two.
Morgan Crawford (Chickamauga, Ga.) kept the rally rolling with an infield single to short that plated a run and extended the Eagles lead to 3-0.
Carson-Newman padded its lead in the bottom of the second. Leah Sohm walked, then Abby Fiessinger clobbered a 2-1 pitch to straight away center. She blasted off for her second home run of her sophomore year and stretched the lead to 5-0.
The Eagles once again ended things in walkoff fashion in the bottom of the fifth via the run rule. Pritchett started off the inning with a single to centerfield before Crawford collected her third hit of the day with a double to left center to plate a pinch-running Kelsey Jones. After a strikeout and a ground out. Sohm walked and Fiessinger spun a ball along the third base foul line that didn't roll foul, stopping dead in fair territory to load the bases.
Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) racked up the game-ending two-out knock with a single into left that brought Crawford and Sohm in.
Crawford worked a three-hit shutout to get the win in the circle and improve to 7-1. She didn't strike anyone out, but she also didn't walk a batter.
Chandler Terrapin took the loss for USC Aiken to fall to 1-2.
The Eagles are back in action against New Haven on Saturday. First pitch against the Chargers is set for 1 p.m.