VIDEO: Abby Fiessinger Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - The following is the second part in a three-part series chronicling Carson-Newman softball's positions for 2019. All-region and All-SAC outfielder Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) analyzes the grouping in this breakdown.
Carson-Newman's outfield didn't lose a soul from 2018, and one can find three of the biggest bats on the team back there for C-N.
Fiessigner earned All-SAC honors as a utility player last year in part for her work in the outfield. This year, the plan is to play her there full-time. She's joined by All-SAC first teamer Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) and SAC Player of the Year Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) when she's not pitching.
That trio of players all hit better than .400 over the final two months of 2018 to close last year.
"With everyone coming back, we know how to play with each other," Fiessinger said. "We know where people are going to be and when they are going to get there. Right now, it's about working on getting to the gaps quicker, getting the ball in faster and doing what we need to do to make the routine things as good as they can be."
Fiessinger was 14th in the conference and second on the team with a .382 batting average and 66 hits. Her 66 knocks ranked third in the conference. She tallied 14 doubles, two triples and five home runs. She drove in 23 runs. Fiessinger was on fire in March and April. She hit .400 for the Month of March and has her average at .407 for the month of April.
"I have to play my game," Fiessinger said. "I got a little in my own head last year. I'm trying to avoid that this year and play to my ability."
She registered 20 multi-hit days, and had seven multi-RBI efforts on the year. Fiessinger was also a member of the SAC All-Tournament Team. Fiessinger went 7-for-11 at the plate for the tournament and came within a double of hitting for the cycle in the title game. She drove in two for the weekend and rounded out the tourney with multi-hit efforts in the semifinals and title game.
Fiessinger's parents, Heather and Jason, have promised her a puppy if she hits 15 home runs this year. A 15-home run season would tie Fiessinger with Staci Fish for the second most in a year in school history. Brittany Hefner holds the school record with 19. Fiessinger hit 10 home runs her freshman season. She is currently 14th all-time in program history in career home runs. A 15-bomb season would move her into third all-time in program history.
Rinus finished her sophomore year second in the league in batting average at .435. She had 74 hits – sixth most in program history, 19 doubles, three triples and a pair of home runs. She got on base 52 percent of the time and slugged .656. She led the conference in hits and doubles, was fourth in triples and fourth in the league with 99 total bases. Her 19 doubles are top five in the country and were one away from the single-season school record in Carson-Newman history. Rinus had 19 multi-hit efforts and seven multi-RBI days.
Finally, Caldwell had the fifth most doubles (14) in the league and the second most among freshman in the conference. She led Carson-Newman with runs batted in (45) and home runs (eight). After hitting .279 for the month of February, Caldwell has acclimated well to college softball. She hit .347 in March with a .444 batting average in April. She also earned all-tournament honors for the SAC tourney.
Carson-Newman has a slew of other veterans with starting experience in the outfield. Senior Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) and junior Kennedy Richardson (Elizabethton, Tenn.) have a combined 150 starts in their careers.
Cooper rounded out her junior campaign with 48 appearances and 44 starts in the outfield. She hit .229, but was an extra-base hit machine. Cooper had 27 knocks on the year, six doubles, a triple and four bombs.
Richardson was injured the latter half of the year. Richardson started six games and appeared in 12 before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. Richardson hit .364 before her injury, collecting four hits in 11 at-bats. She scored three runs.
All of Carson-Newman's newcomers in the outfield have that to burn as well.
"They have speed," Fiessinger said. "You put me, Haley and Coop in the outfield, you don't have the fastest outfield in the conference. We can rely on them to get to the gaps quick. That's one thing Coach Graves brought in this year, speed."
Team chaplain and senior leader Peyton Bacon (Greeneville, Tenn.) rounds out the Eagles' roster for the outfield.
Carson-Newman softball's position previews wrap up Tuesday with the infield.