GAFFNEY, S.C. – No. 11 Carson-Newman (13-0) got a pair of stellar performances in the circle and some timely knocks from KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) to collect a pair of 2-1 wins over Limestone Saturday at Babe Ruth Field.
The Eagles are 13-0 for just the third time in school history. Only the 1994 and 1993 teams started hotter, with 19-0 and 24-0 starts, respectively.
"I can't say enough about this team's ability to find a way to make things work and win ball games," Carson-Newman head coach Michael Graves said. "I would still like to get going sooner, but was a very good Limestone team that we just beat twice on the road. We played great error-free defense, had two outstanding pitching performances, and had big, timely at bats. It was definitely a total team effort today."
Levi had a triple and scored the game-tying run in game one before powering Carson-Newman to the win with a solo bomb in the sixth. In game two, the junior tallied a sacrifice fly that ended up proving to be the difference.
Allison Rager (Elkview, W.Va.) and Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) both proved to be potent in the circle with each logging a complete-game win. Rinus struck out seven in the night cap, while Rager only surrendered two hits in the first game of the day and retired the final 15 batters she faced in order.
Carson-Newman improved to 4-0 in one-run games this year with the wins.
GAME ONE: No. 11 Carson-Newman 2, Limestone 1
Limestone grabbed the lead early in the first. Lindsey Mason walked to lead off the game, stole second and raced home a batter later on a Vic Brewington base hit to center to put the Saints up 1-0.
The Saints kept the Eagles off balance and hitless for the first three innings before C-N broke through in the fourth. KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) clobbered a triple to right. A batter later, Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) pounded a ball through the left side to bring home Levi and level things up at a run apiece.
In the sixth, it was Levi who lit the lamp to put Carson-Newman in front. The junior bombed her fourth home run of the season, a two-out solo shot to right, to set the final margin at 2-1.
Allison Rager (Elkview, W.Va.) was overpowering in the circle to get to 7-0 on the year. After allowing base hits in the first and second innings, Rager retired the final 15 batters she faced. She struck out two and walked two to keep Limestone off balance.
Sydney Sullivan took the loss for the Saints. She only surrendered four hits, but gave up the triple and home run to Levi. She struck out two and walked three en route to falling to 2-2 on the year.
GAME TWO: No. 11 Carson-Newman 2, Limestone 1
Unlike game one, Carson-Newman started out quick. Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) hit a one-out solo bomb to right for her fourth dinger of the year. Fiessinger's jack moves her within 11 homers of her parents getting her a puppy.
Carson-Newman wasn't done in the first. Rager singled through the right side and Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) doubled to the right center alley way to give C-N a pair of runners in scoring position with one out.
Levi staked Carson-Newman to a 2-0 lead with a sky-high fly ball deep to right center to plate Rager.
However, Carson-Newman wouldn't threaten again. The Eagles left runners on first in the third and a runner on second in the sixth, but Limestone faced the minimum in the other frames.
The Eagles were equally dominant defensively though. Rinus retired 12 consecutive Saints from the first through the fifth before the Saints logged their third hit of the day on a Caroline Ruth single up the middle. After that, Rinus settled back down and collected back-to-back Ks to end the inning.
The Saints got within a run in the sixth with a Vic Brewington RBI triple to right center.
Then, in the seventh, Limestone got the tying run on base. Sullivan led off the inning with a double to left center. However, Rinus induced a groundout to short, a pop up to short and a punchout to end the game and secure the sweep.
Rinus improved to 5-0 with the win. She gave up six hits and struck out seven. Ruth took her first loss of the year for the Saints to drop to 5-1. Carson-Newman rattled off six hits on her. Ruth didn't walk anyone and struck out three.
Carson-Newman takes time off for spring break before returning to action March 16 at Queens.