MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. – Carson-Newman (4-0) clobbered six home runs to outslug Georgia College (0-2) in a doubleheader sweep Saturday afternoon at the Peeler Complex.
The Eagles powered their way to a 9-0 win to start the day, a mark that goes down as the largest win for either C-N or GC in series history. Then, in the nightcap, the Eagles came back from a 5-0 deficit to win 9-7.
"We have had several discussions about there will be no excuse for getting out hustled or quitting at any point this year when things don't go our way," head coach Michael Graves said. "I can honestly say those two things did not happen today and doesn't appear that it will in the future. Good teams find ways to win and that's what they did this weekend against two very good teams."
"It's an awesome feeling when you connect with the ball just right," Rager said. "It's reassuring to know that even when you're down by five runs halfway through the game, that both your teammates and your coaches have full confidence to win the game. We have a strong, powerful offense with so many people and options for the lineup 1-9."
Rager pitched the Eagles to both wins in the circle. She tallied six Ks through both games.
Levi and Rager provided the most pop at the plate. Levi drove in four with a 4-for-7 day at the plate. Rager also had four RBI with the two bombs and a 3-for-8 effort at the dish.
Caldwell reached base in seven of the eight times she appeared at the dish. She went 3-for-4 with four runs scored and three walks.
Carson-Newman only committed one error through the twinbill.
"I cannot say enough about our defense," Graves said. "We made some great plays in the outfield and infield this weekend. It truly says a lot about their character when one of our leaders is absent (reigning SAC Player of the Year Lacie Rinus stayed home sick with the flu) and they play like this without her."
GAME ONE: Carson-Newman 9, Georgia College 0
Carson-Newman got the party started offensively in the top of the fourth. Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) smashed a solo bomb to right center off the scoreboard to put the Eagles up 1-0.
The Eagles restarted their offense in the top of the six with some timely two-out hits. Fiessinger knocked a single back up the box. Allison Rager (Elkview, W.Va.) reached on a fielder's choice to put the second out on the board.
That's when Carson-Newman started to light the lamp with its biggest inning of the season to date. Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) worked a base on balls, then fellow West Virginia-native Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) drove in Rager with a single up the middle.
That set the table for KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.). The junior smashed a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left center for a three-run tater that put C-N up 5-0.
The Eagles kept the party rolling in the top of the seventh. Rager clobbered her second home run of the season on the first pitch of her at-bat. The three-run dinger put the Eagles in front 8-0. After singles from Caldwell and Levi, Cheyenne Boles (Knoxville, Tenn.) delivered a two-out knock through the left side to round out C-N's scoring and put the Eagles up 9-0.
Levi powered Carson-Newman at the plate with a 3-for-3 day. Fiessinger also tallied a three-hit effort with two runs scored and an RBI.
Rager tallied the win in the circle to improve to 3-0 on the year. Rager worked five innings of shutout, four-hit ball. She struck out two and didn't walk anyone. Abby Hicks (Knoxville, Tenn.) completed the shutout with two innings of one-hit action.
Jessie Morris took the loss for the Bobcats to start the year 0-1. The Eagles tallied seven hits and five earned runs on her in 5.2 innings of work. Danielle Rubin worked the final 1.1 innings with five hits and four runs allowed.
GAME TWO: Carson-Newman 9, Georgia College 7
Georgia College pounced on Carson-Newman early with a two-out rally in the first inning. A two-out walk got things started for the Bobcats. Haley Howell and Hannah Rodgers then followed with back-to-back two-out doubles to center and right, respectively, to set Georgia College up early with a 2-0 lead.
The Bobcats used more clutch two-out hitting in the second inning. After Rager retired the first two batters she faced, but GC loaded the bases with a trio of two-out singles. Amber Coy capitalized on the situation with a bases-clearing double to the right-center alleyway that put GC up 5-0.
Carson-Newman got a chunk of it back in the third. The Eagles loaded the bases without an out with a single from Fiessinger, Rager reaching on an error and Caldwell getting plunked. Levi took advantage of the situation with a single back up the middle for the Eagles' first run.
Scott got hit to pull C-N within three. After a Janelle Benzick (Virginia Beach, Va.) flied out, Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) belted a one-out double to right center gap that scored two and brought C-N within one, 5-4. The Eagles couldn't keep the good times rolling with a flyout and a ground out to the catcher.
The Eagles took the lead for the first time in game two thanks to the long ball in the fourth. Rager and Caldwell went back-to-back with solo home runs to put C-N in front 6-5.
A two-run double from Valerie Seay (Cross Plain, Tenn.) and a sacrifice fly from Fiessinger gave C-N a cushion in a three-run fifth, 9-5.
Georgia College managed to get the tying run to the plate in the seventh. Ariel Edenfi hit a two-out, two run bomb to right to pull the Bobcats within two. However, Rager struck out Amber Coy looking with runners on first and second to end the game after two more batters reached on a single and an error.
Rager tallied the win in the circle, her fourth of the opening weekend. She did allow a season-high nine hits and five runs with four walks and four strikeouts. Abby Hicks worked 0.2 innings in relief before Rager notched the final out. Hicks surrendered three knocks and the two-run bomb.
Rebecca Lawrence took the loss for Georgia College to start the year 0-1. She allowed six hits and five runs in relief of starter Kayla Price.
Cooper powered C-N in game two with a three-hit day out of the eight-hole. She went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
Georgia College had a slew of missed opportunities. The Bobcats left 11 on base. GC went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The five-run deficit Carson-Newman overcame is tied for the largest comeback for the Eagles in the last decade. The Eagles also overcame five-run deficits against Concord and Mars Hill twice.
Carson-Newman is back in action in a week against Converse in C-N's home opener. First pitch against the Valkyries is set for noon. Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network online at cneagles.com/live.