Three Eagles earn preseason All-SAC accolades

Three Eagles earn preseason All-SAC accolades

VIDEO: Lacie Rinus Interview

VIDEO: Haley Caldwell Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman softball placed three athletes on the preseason All-South Atlantic Conference first team, the league office announced Wednesday morning.

Pitcher Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and utility player Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) earn preseason accolades for a second straight year.  Sophomore outfielder Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) garners preseason recognition for the first time in her career.

The reigning South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year, Rinus joined second baseman Whitney Hickam as the only other two-year All-American since Carson-Newman moved to NCAA Division II.

Hickam earned third team honors in 2007 before following it up in 2008 with a second team accolade.  Carson-Newman and SAC Hall of Famers Sammi Hatcher (1992-93) and Carol Zachary (1989-91) were multi-year All-Americans for the Eagles during the program's NAIA days.  Zachary is the program's only three-time All-American.  

Rinus earns Carson-Newman its 18th all-time All-American honoree.  Rinus adds the accolade to her SAC Player of the Year and SAC tournament MVP honors. Rinus was just the second pitcher in league history since the SAC began presenting a distinct Pitcher of the Year award in 2004 to be named player of the year. 

She joined Carson-Newman warhorse Mary Shealy who brought home player of the year honors in 2011.  The sophomore is the first player in league history to win both a pitcher of the year and a player of the year honor in a career.  She joined former Carson-Newman pitchers Carol Zachary, Heather Randolph and Marci Mitchell (all three SAC Hall of Famers), who all won the award before the awards split in 2004, as Eagle hurlers who have taken home the Player of the Year honor. 

Rinus was formidable both at the plate and in the circle as a sophomore.  She finished the year second in the league in batting average at .435.  She had 70 hits, 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.  She collected her first career four-hit day against Lenoir-Rhyne in the Eagles' home finale.  

In the circle, Rinus led the league in starts (36), complete games (25), shutouts (11), innings pitched (232.2) and strikeouts (223).  She had the fifth best batting average against in the league at .221 and the fifth best ERA in the conference at 2.12.  She matched her career high for strikeouts on a trio of occasions this year, striking out 12 against Queens, Wingate and Mars Hill.

Fiessinger was 14th in the conference and second on the team with a .382 batting average and 66 hits en route to earning first team NFCA All-Region honors.  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. 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. 

Caldwell morphed into one of the South Atlantic Conference's best hitters as her freshman year progressed.  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).  The Kenova, W.Va.-native had a SAC player of the week honor to her name.

She earned the award on March 6. Caldwell helped Carson-Newman to a 3-1 week with a split at Concord and a crucial in-region sweep of Limestone.  The freshman was 7-for-15 at the plate for the week, hitting .467.  She slugged a stupefying 1.000 over the four games.  She had multi-hit games in three of the four games the Eagles played this week and also drove in multiple runs in three-quarters of the contests. 

Caldwell hit four doubles in the twinbill with Concord.  In fact, six of her seven hits on the week were for extra bases. After hitting .279 for the month of February, Caldwell 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. Caldwell was 5-for-11 at the plate with two RBI for the weekend.  She had multi-hit efforts against both Lenoir-Rhyne and Anderson in the quarters and semis. 

Carson-Newman opens the season Feb. 1 against Young Harris in Milledgeville, Ga.

Preseason All-Conference

1st Team

OF – Erin Boone, Lenoir-Rhyne

OF – Meghan Majeski, Anderson

OF – Haley Caldwell, Carson-Newman

1B – Maria Williamson, Coker

2B – Ty-Kella Goins, Lincoln Memorial

SS – Natalie Willis, Newberry

3B – Talon LaClair, Lenoir-Rhyne

DP – Haley Simonds, Newberry

UTL – Abby Fiessinger, Carson-Newman

C – Jordan Hunt, Queens

P – Emily Kenley, Lenoir-Rhyne

P – Christine Carver, Coker

P – Lacie Rinus, Carson-Newman

2nd Team

OF – Tori Caldwell, Newberry

OF – Sara Ingoldsby, Queens

OF – Allie Jones, Lincoln Memorial

1B – Kylee Leonhardt, Lenoir-Rhyne

2B – Sydney Ditto, Queens

SS – Ragan Broome, Mars Hill

3B – Breanna Hagerty, Anderson

DP – Aubrey Reep, Wingate

UTL – Kelsie Hocutt, Lincoln Memorial

C – Taylor Wells, Wingate

P – Brandi Parks, Lenoir-Rhyne

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