JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (24-12, 6-6 South Atlantic Conference) makes the 306-mile jaunt over to Hartsville, S.C. to challenge Coker (25-13, 4-6 SAC) Friday afternoon at 2 p.m.
The games were moved up 24 hours due to the threat of inclement weather in the Palmetto State on Saturday.
The Eagles enter the doubleheader after a split with Mars Hill, in which C-N dropped game two 10-9, losing a four-run lead in the seventh inning.
"When you lose those one-run games, it hurts a little bit more," head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "I don't fault our effort whatsoever. They have been playing hard. However, we don't want to be down on ourselves. We'll have to continue to bring that fight and that fire because Coker a ball club that is dangerous at the plate, in the circle and defensively."
Coker started the season on a 14-game winning streak, however, the Cobras are 11-13 since that spurt to start the year.
Carson-Newman and Coker squared off four times in the regular season last year. The Cobras swept the regular season series in shutout fashion before Carson-Newman downed Coker twice in the South Atlantic Conference tournament, including a 2-0 win in the SAC title game for the Eagles to clinch their league-record 10th tournament title.
Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) tallied her eighth shutout of the season against Mars Hill. She ranks second in the country in that regard. Rinus is also sixth nationally in the country with 156 strikeouts. She leads the South Atlantic Conference in both stats.
Coker ranks third in the conference in stolen bases per game at 1.34. Individually, Maria Williamson claims six top-four conference statistics: first in total bases (80), second in RBIs (39), second in home runs (8), second in hits (52, eighth nationally), third in RBIs per game (1.03), and fourth in batting average (.441).
In the Eagles' SAC title win last year against the Cobras, Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro. Tenn.) powered the Eagles on the day in the circle. The freshman fanned six against three walks to improve to 26-5 on the year. She dealt back-to-back two-hit shutouts to send C-N home with the title.
Carson-Newman drew first blood in the second. A leadoff single by KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), followed by one-out base hits for Cheyenne Boles (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) loaded the bases for the Eagles.
Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) wore a two-out pitch with the bases juiced to score the game's first run. A pop up to second from Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) ended the threat before the Eagles could do any more damage.
The Eagles loaded the bases again in the fourth. Allison Webster (Charlestown, Ind.) doubled down the left field line with one out to start the party. Fiessinger followed that with a single to short before Toppel got plunked to load the bases.
Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) worked a bases-loaded walk to bring in the second run of the day for the Eagles with one out. C-N missed an opportunity to do further damage in the inning. Rinus flied out to center field looking for a SAC fly, but Fiessinger was gunned down at the plate to end the inning.
Carson-Newman shut the door on the Cobras the rest of the way. The Cobras got a two out single from Cacey Simmons in the sixth. Hannah Price got hit by a pitch with one out in the seventh. However, a pair of ground balls to second ended the contest and gave C-N the title.
First pitch Friday is set for 2 p.m. The Cobras Sports Network will have the broadcast of the game.