VIDEO: Press Conference
HICKORY, N.C. – Seventh-seeded Young Harris (34-18) used a four-run fourth inning and some timely big hits late to down sixth-seeded Carson-Newman (33-20) 7-1 Friday afternoon at Bears Field in the Southeast Regional.
Young Harris advances to the championship game while Carson-Newman will play an elimination game Friday evening at approximately 6:30 against the winner of Georgia College and Lenoir-Rhyne.
"Hats off to Young Harris," head softball coach Michael Graves said. "They played a good game. Got timely hits when they needed to, and that's something that we've been struggling to do all tournament. It's hard to win a ballgame when you leave double digit runners on base."
Young Harris grabbed the lead in the top of the fourth after the team's stranded nine runners through the first three innings. Grace Botti doubled to the wall in right center to lead off the inning. A walk and a sacrifice gave the Mountain Lions a pair of runners in scoring position with one out.
Kristan Lizardi hit a ground ball to short in the next at-bat. Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) airmailed the throw to first to allow the go-ahead run to come in.
Two bloop singles from Madison Urquiola and Emily Harris brought two runs in for the Mountain Lions to stretch the lead to 3-0.
Hannah Harrison dropped down a bunt to first to re-load the bases for Haylie Shope. She got plunked to bring in the fourth run of the inning and chase C-N starter Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) from the game. Morgan Crawford (Chickamauga, Ga.) entered and got two outs to get the Eagles out of the inning with no further damage done.
Carson-Newman countered in the bottom fourth. KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) started things out by getting hit. Crawford then singled up the middle before a pop up put the first out on the board.
However, a fielder's choice retired a runner at the plate and a strikeout ended Carson-Newman's threat with only one run across. Young Harris led 4-1 after the fourth.
The Mountain Lions re-extended the lead in the top of the fifth. Murphy Davis walked to lead off the inning then Jill Torres tanked a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left for her sixth home run of the season to stretch the advantage to 6-1.
Young got some extra insurance in the sixth with a one-out, RBI double to right from Grace Botti to set the final margin at 7-1.
Carson-Newman left 10 runners on base for the game and was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. C-N was just 3-for-17 with runners on base in general, a stat magnified because Carson-Newman got its leadoff runner aboard in four out of the seven innings.
"That's how you lose ball games," Graves said. "We've talked about it and will work to address it. It's pretty simple. If you don't get hits with runners on base, especially with runners in scoring position, you're going to lose a lot of ball games."
Rinus took the loss for the Eagles to fall to 23-13. She worked the first 3.1 innings, giving up seven hits and four runs, three of which were earned. Morgan Crawford fired the final 3.2 innings with four hits and three earned runs allowed.
Dharma Rosbrugh tallied the win in relief for the Mountain Lions after Louise Disi didn't pitch enough innings in her start to qualify for the victory. Rosbrugh improved to 21-10. She pitched four shutout innings, allowing four hits. Disi gave up a run and three hits in her three inning start.
Young Harris' one and two hitters led the Mountain Lions offense. Emily Harris went 3-for-5 with an RBI, Hannah Harrison was 3-for-4 with a run scored.
Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) and Crawford each tallied multi-hit efforts for the Eagles.
Carson-Newman faces the winner of Lenoir-Rhyne and Georgia College in an elimination game Friday night at approximately 6:30.