Eagles walk it off twice to sweep Wingate

VIDEO: Vickee Hollifield Interview

VIDEO: KaraLynne Levi Interview

VIDEO: Katie Pritchett Interview

VIDEO: Highlights

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (23-11, 5-5 South Atlantic Conference) erased a pair of late-inning leads for Wingate (11-21, 1-5 SAC) to earn a pair of walk-off wins over the Bulldogs Friday afternoon at the Vickee Kazee-Hollifield Softball Complex.

Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) delivered a one-out, two-run blast to give C-N a 5-3 win in eight innings in game one before Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) clobbered a pitch back up the middle to score a runner from second and end game two 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh. 

"Two things stood out today," head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "We didn't score a lot of runs early, but we didn't fold and kept fighting to score those runs late. Secondly, we were able to manufacture runs today. Those were two ingredients that we hadn't had that we did today."  

The sweep is Carson-Newman's first at home against Wingate in a decade.  Pritchett's walk-off  home run was Carson-Newman's first since Linday Dean drilled one against Coker in 2016. 

Carson-Newman had been 1-8 this year and 8-56 since 2014 when trailing after five innings.  They won both games Friday and trailed after five in each. 

In the circle, Rinus matched a career high with 12 strikeouts in game one. 

"We feel confident with Lacie in the circle," Kazee-Hollifield said. "She gave us everything.  It was great to see Morgan Crawford come in and give us quality innings in game two.  Her seventh inning in game two was something we had to have." 

At the plate, she went 4-for-7 with a double and an RBI.  Pritchett was 2-for-5 with a home run and three driven in.

Game one: Carson-Newman 5, Wingate 3 (eight innings)

Wingate grabbed an early lead without tallying a hit in the second.  Jessica VonCannon got hit by a pitch with one out before Taylor Wells walked.  With two out, Jordan Floyd hit a towering pop up up the first base line.  Taylor Scott mishandled it into fair ground at first allowing the lead runner VonCannon to score an unearned run and give Wingate a 1-0 lead.

Wingate added another run in the top of the third.  Haley Cashwell led off the inning with a triple to right.  Naomi Sapp took advantage of the situation with a sacrifice fly back to right to put Wingate up 2-0. 

The Bulldogs got a solo home run to left center from Mikayla Hannah, her second of the season, to push the lead out to 3-0. 

Carson-Newman got a run back in the bottom of the sixth when Abby Fiessigner (Benton, Ky.) led off the frame with a line drive home run to right.  The Eagles loaded the bases with a Rinus single, Caldwell reaching on an error and a walk to Boles, however, a pop up to left ended the frame with the bases loaded and the go-ahead run on first. 

The Eagles would tie things up in the bottom of the seventh.  Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) worked a one-out walk and moved to second on a ground out to third. KaraLyne bombed a two-run tank off a two-out, 2-0 pitch to the tippy top of the pine trees in left to knot it at three.  Levi's home run was her first in 152 at-bats. 

Carson-Newman got the win in walkoff fashion in the bottom of the eighth.  Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) yanked a 2-1 pitch to left field and walked it off with a dinger for  the first time for C-N since a Lindsay Dean home run against Coker in 2016. 

"I could feel my team behind me," Pritchett said. "I could feel the crowd and the dugout making noise.  I'd been seeing the ball well. I got my hands out and was able to hit a good pitch.  We all built on each others confidence. That was a lot of fun." 

Lacie Rinus got the win in the circle to improve to 14-6.  She matched a career high with 12 strikeouts.  Rinus gave up five hits and two of the three runs she allowed were earned.

Aubrey Reep took the loss for Wingate to fall to 9-8.  She allowed seven hits and five runs, four of which were earned.  Reep walked three and struck out five.  Of the seven hits she allowed, five were extra-base knocks.

Game two: Carson-Newman 4, Wingate 3

Carson-Newman and Wingate both carried no-hitters into the fourth inning before losing them.  It was the Eagles who did a little more damage when they grabbed their first hit in  the bottom of the fourth. 

Rinus led off the inning with a double to left center and moved to third on a fly out to right from Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.).  Pritchett then drove Rinus in with a sacrifice fly to right to give C-N a 1-0 lead. 

Wingate would grab the lead in the top of the fifth off RBI singles from Jordan Floyd and Naomi Sapp.  Floyd went to center, Sapp went through the right side to make it 2-1 Wingate.

The Bulldogs added to the lead in the sixth with a sacrifice fly to center for Floyd. 

The Eagles were able to tie it in the bottom of the frame.  Carson-Newman strung together two, one-out base hits and a walk to load the bases for Cheyenne Boles (Knoxville, Tenn.). The junior bashed one back up the box to score two and level it at three.  The Eagles had the bases loaded again with one out, but Morgan Crawford (Chickamauga, Ga.) grounded into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning and keep the game tied 3-3. 

Carson-Newman would grab the win in walk-off fashion again the bottom of the seventh. 

After a hit batter and a fielder's choice, Levi singled through the left side to give the Eagles runners on first and second with one out. 

Rinus strode to the plate and belted a 2-1 pitch back up the middle to plate Fiessinger from two bases away and give C-N a 4-3 triumph in the nightcap. 

Crawford got the win in relief.  She fired the final two innings, giving up a pair of hits and a run.  She struck out two and retired the side in order in the seventh to give the Eagles the opportunity to walk it off.  Rinus pitched a five-inning start, allowing four hits and two runs, one of which was earned.

Rachel Weidner took the loss for Wingate to drop to 1-7. She allowed six hits and four runs, all earned. Weidner walked three and struck out one.

The Eagles are back in action after Easter Wednesday against Mars Hill.  First pitch with the Lions is set for 2 p.m.  Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network at cneagles.com/live. 

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