JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (26-14, 6-8 South Atlantic Conference) makes the short jaunt over to Greeneville, Tenn. for a 2 p.m. first pitch Wednesday against rivals Tusculum (21-18, 5-7 SAC) at Red Edmonds Field.
Carson-Newman is jockeying for positioning in the South Atlantic Conference Tournament Championship which looms 17 days away.
Carson-Newman has a game lead on Wingate and Tusculum for the final spot in the conference tournament with two more games in hand on the Bulldogs and Pioneers. At the same time, Carson-Newman is just a game and a half back of third place and Queens and Newberry.
"We have to be squeaky clean when we go to Tusculum," head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "They are really good at home and we'll have to be at our best. Everything is so critical and important with how the standings are. We've gone through some valleys this year, but when this team is on, they are potent. I think we'll be fresh and ready to go against the Pioneers."
The Pioneers have been a nightmare to deal with at home compared to on the road. Tusculum is 15-6 at Red Edmonds Field, but just 4-12 away from the friendly confines. The Pioneers offense has been the primary difference.
Tusculum hits .335 at home compared to .271 on the road. That's a 64-point difference home to road. The Pioneers average 6.1 runs per game at home versus 3.6 on the road.
Carson-Newman and Tusculum have split four of the last five doubleheaders the teams have played in Greeneville. Carson-Newman's only sweep in the last decade came in 2012 when C-N took 9-0 and 6-0 decisions from the Pioneers.
Lacie Rinus tallied her ninth shutout of the year on Monday against Erskine. She is number one in the nation in that regard, tied with Haley Gilham of Chico State and Ciarra Stapp of Cal Baptist for the most in the country.
Rinus also ranks eighth in the nation in doubles, 10th in hits and 10th in strikeouts. She leads the South Atlantic Conference in both Ks in the pitching circle and in batting average at the plate.
Tusculum's Taylor Battle has hit five triples this season, the most in the South Atlantic Conference and the 15th most nationally.
Tusculum is the SAC's best team for hitting triples too. The Pioneers hit one every three games and rank 27th in the country for the stat.
First pitch between the Eagles and Pioneers is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday. Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network at cneagles.com/live.