Eagles break out sticks, falter in sweep to Anderson

VIDEO: Vickee Kazee-Hollifield Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – For the first time in two years, Carson-Newman (19-9, 1-3 South Atlantic Conference) was swept at home.  The Eagles dropped 10-5 and 12-8 contests to Anderson (22-6, 4-0 SAC) Thursday afternoon at the Vickee Kazee-Hollifield Softball Complex.

 "Anderson has a good team and is one of the best hitting clubs we've faced in number of years," head coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "We scored runs today, but we didn't pitch well and we didn't play defense today.  It comes back to me.  I take full responsibility.  We've got a lot of coaching to do."

The 13 runs Carson-Newman scored are the most that Anderson has allowed through a doubleheader all season.  The same is true for the eight runs the Eagles scored in the nightcap.  No team has scored that many on AU all year.  However, Anderson became the first team to put up double digit runs on the Eagles in two games of a doubleheader since 2014.  Oddly enough, the Eagles won those games, taking 12-11 and 14-13 wins from Mars Hill on March 26 that year.

Anderson was aided by a season-high nine walks in game one and five errors, the third time in six years that Carson-Newman has made that many errors in a game and the first since a loss to Georgia College last February. 

Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) and Morgan Crawford (Chickamauga, Ga.) each drove in three in the nightcap.

Game one: Anderson 10, Carson-Newman 5

Anderson struck first with timely two out hitting in the first.  After Kasey Grant walked and stole second, she moved to third on a groundout.  Breanna Hagerty hit an infield single to short to drive her in before Mattie Hamilton yanked the first pitch she saw over the wall in right center to propel Anderson  to a 3-0 advantage.

Carson-Newman countered in the bottom of the first to get a run back.  Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) led off the inning with a base hit through the left side before Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt.  Rinus singled to center to give the Eagles runners on the corners. 

Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) belted a ball high into the atmosphere in center  to allow Fiessinger to tag up and get C-N within a run on the sacrifice fly. 

The Eagles were able to knot things up in the bottom of the second.  With runners on the corners and two out, Rinus came to the plate.  She lofted a ball deep to right that sailed over the outstretched arm of Ali Anderson.  The two-out triple plated a pinch-running Madison Mathis (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Toppel to level things up at 3-3. 

That tie game would be short-lived.  Anderson retook the lead in the third inning thanks to five walks in the frame.  The final two came with two outs and the bases loaded and put the Trojans up 5-3. 

The Trojans added to their lead in the fourth.  With the bases loaded, Hamilton blooped a ball to right to drive in run.  Ashlyn Cooper misplayed the ball and let it bounce past her, letting an unearned run score on the play as well.  The Trojans led 7-3 after three-and-half innings.

A Martin RBI single to right blooped in another run for the Trojans in the fifth to make it an 8-3 contest before Barefield  ripped a line drive double to left to extend it to 9-3 in the sixth. 

Anderson scraped another run across in the seventh with a Hagerty  double through the left side of the infield and into  the left center power ally to extend the lead to 10-3 in the seventh. 

Carson-Newman made things a bit more respectable in the seventh with a one-out solo home run to center for Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) and a one-out, RBI-double to right for Janelle Benzick (Virginia Beach, Va.).  Those hits set the final margin at 10-5. 

Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) took the loss for the Eagles to fall to 11-6.  She allowed a career-high eight walks and struck  out four in six innings of work.  Of the nine runs that Rinus allowed, five were earned.  Valerie Seay (Cross Plains, Tenn.) gave up the final run in one inning of relief work. 

Kayla Pepper got the win for the Trojans to move to 7-3.  She worked 6.1 innings.  She gave up a season-high 12 hits and a season-high  five runs, but had more run support than Rinus.  She struck out six and walked two. 

Game two: Anderson 12, Carson-Newman 8

Anderson struck first again in game two.  Cailah Niles led off the game with a base hit back up the box and moved to second on a sacrifice.  A fielder's choice to third gave the Trojans a pair of base runners.  Hamilton took advantage, launching a home run into the pine trees in left with two out to put AU up 3-0. 

Carson-Newman evened  the score in bizarre fashion in the bottom of the first.  Three Anderson errors helped the Eagles load the bases.  An illegal pitch walked Pritchett with an Eagle on every spot. 

Then  Morgan Crawford hit a ball off the handle of her bat to the right of the circle. Martin grabbed it from first and went home.  Her throw was late, allowing Rinus to score.  Benzick then tied the game with a single off the shortstop to score Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.).

Anderson recaptured the lead in the second with a Niles two-out single to right that brought in a pinch-running Khloe Saunders from third. 

Carson-Newman would grab the lead in  the bottom of the frame.  In an inning extended by three illegal pitches, C-N took advantage with two outs.  With two in scoring position, Caldwell laced a triple to right to put C-N up 5-4.  With runners on the corners, Morgan Crawford (Chickamauga, Ga.) ripped a double over the hand of the left fielder to clear the bases and put C-N up 7-4. 

The Trojans would erase the lead in the top of the third with a two-out, three-run home run from Rachael Barefield, her third of the season, to level the score at 7-7.

Anderson then added on five more unanswered between the sixth and seventh innings to complete the sweep. 

Caldwell blasted a solo shot to left center for her sixth bomb of her freshman year to set the final margin at 12-8.

Crawford took the loss for the Eagles to drop to 8-3. She allowed 13 hits. Of the 12 runs Anderson scored, 11 were earned.

Harlie Duncan got the win in relief, pitching 5.0 innings of two-hit, one-run ball.  She improved to 10-1 with the win.  Randee Bettis started the game and tossed the first two innings. She gave up five hits and seven runs, four were earned.

The Eagles return to action Saturday at 1 p.m. against No. 21 Queens. Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network online at cneagles.com/live.

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