Tight games define split between Eagles, Lions

VIDEO: Highlights

VIDEO: Vickee Hollifield Interview

VIDEO: Leah Sohm Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (24-12, 6-6 South Atlantic Conference) and Mars Hill (12-12, 3-7 SAC) fought tooth and nail in a pair of close games Wednesday afternoon at the Vickee Kazee-Hollifield Softball Complex.

Carson-Newman got some timely hits to notch a 2-0 win in a pitchers' duel in game one before Mars Hill used a six-run seventh to win a see-saw battle 10-9 in the nightcap. 

"There's no question that Mars Hill has one of the best hitting ball clubs in this conference," head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "Our effort was there today.  I looked at the scoreboard, we didn't have any errors, we out hit them and you look at that and just try to figure out how did we lose.  Credit Mars Hill too, they battled just like we did.  We don't have any time to feel sorry for ourselves, we've got to regroup and play Coker."

Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) led Carson-Newman at the plate.  The freshman was 4-for-5 at the plate, tallying her second and third career multi-hit efforts. 

Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) also locked in a pair of multi-hit efforts. She hit her fourth home run of the year and drove in two on the day. 

Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) grabbed a win and her eighth shutout of the year in the circle, strikeout out 16 on the day, including a career-high matching 12 in game one. 

Mars Hill's win in the nightcap was the Lions first ever triumph in Jefferson City in the 69-game history of the series and the Lions sixth overall win over Carson-Newman.  It snapped a six-game winning streak for the Eagles over MHU. 

Game one: Carson-Newman 2, Mars Hill 0

Carson-Newman drew first blood, tallying back-to-back knocks to open the game. Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) led off the inning with a base hit up the middle, then scored from three bases away on a KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) double that squeezed down the left field line and into the corner.  That RBI double from Levi gave C-N a 1-0 lead.

The Eagles added an insurance run in the sixth inning.  Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) and Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) each knocked two-out singles with rupss through the right side and to third base, respectively. 

Fiessinger then smoked a shot off the wickets of Mars Hill's third baseman.  The ball caromed up the left field line.  Scott sprinted in from second to score, but Sohm was retired at the third base bag after Scott scored 6-5 to end the inning and put C-N up 2-0. 

Rinus notched her eighth shutout in  the circle to improve to 15-6 on the year.  She matched a career high with 12 strikeouts.

Casey Stanek took the hard-luck loss to fall to 6-5.  She gave up seven hits and two runs, both earned. 

Game two: Mars Hill 10, Carson-Newman 9

The Eagles started game two with a bang.  Off the first pitch of  the contest, Fiessinger cranked her fourth home run of the season and the 14th of  her career on a frozen rope into the pine trees in left center field to put C-N up 1-0. 

Mars Hill drew even with C-N in the fourth inning thanks to a pair of doubles. Bobbi Jones sent one to the right center field gap with one out before Ashley Evans lined one that direction as well to tie the game 1-1. 

Carson-Newman grabbed the lead back in the bottom of  the fourth with a two-out rally.  After a fly out and a ground out, Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) walked.  Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) then belted a base hit through the left side before the pair moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.  Scott took advantage with a bloop single into center field to score Toppel and put C-N up 2-1. 

The Eagles added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth.  With Levi and Rinus on third and second following a fielder's choice and a single, Morgan Crawford (Chickamagua, Ga.) then banged a ball off the wall in left center field to clear the bases and put Carson-Newman in front 4-1. 

Mars Hill would get all those runs back to level things up in the sixth.  A pinch-running Anna Marie Gooch scored the tying run on a wild pitch. 

However, the Eagles would tally four runs in the home half of the inning to go back in front 8-4.

A walk, passed ball and a sacrifice bunt gave C-N a runner on third with one out.  Sohm singled back up the box to push C-N in front 5-4. A Fiessinger single and a throwing error by MHU's catcher pushed the Eagles' two runners into scoring position before KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) grounded out to drive in Sohm and push the Eagles' advantage to 6-4. 

Rinus and Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) kept the merry-go-round whirling with RBI hits to right center. Rinus tripled and Pritchett singled to both drive in runs and set the margin at 8-4 heading into the final inning. 

The Lions had a massive rally in them. It started with an Allen RBI double to left center field.  With runners on second and third and no one out, Bobbi Jones clobbered a 2-2 pitch over the fence in right center to level things up 8-8.

However, the Lions weren't done.  Two walks sandwiched around a pop up and a sacrifice bunt set the table for Kayleigh Jones, who doubled off the wall in left center to give Mars Hill the lead off a two-out extra-base hit 10-8. 

Carson-Newman got a run back in the bottom of the seventh off a one-out solo home run from Cooper, but the Eagles left the tying run on first after a walk, a strike out looking and a fly out to center field. 

Stanek got the win in relief for Mars Hill. She pitched the final 1.1 innings and only allowed Cooper's home run. 

Rinus took the loss to drop to 15-7.  She hurled five innings, with seven hits and seven runs allowed. Of the seven hits Rinus gave up, six were for extra bases. Crawford tossed the other two, giving up three hits and three runs.      

The Eagles return to action Friday against Coker at 2 p.m.

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