ANDERSON, S.C. – Carson-Newman (15-6, 2-6 South Atlantic Conference) started its day by matching a program record for consecutive losses, but finished it with a titanic two-out double from Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) to earn a split with Anderson (19-13, 3-5 SAC) Wednesday at the AU Softball Complex.
The Trojans won game one 4-1 to hand Carson-Newman a fifth straight loss, a mark that matches a program record set by the 2012 team. However, Fiessinger came through with an RBI double on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the top of the seventh to get C-N back in the win column 3-2.
The table was set for Fiessinger by Valerie Seay (Cross Plain, Tenn.), who was on base after a double of her own.
"I just knew that my team needed me to come through," Fiessinger said. I had absolute confidence in Lacie (Rinus, C-N's game two pitcher) and the defense to get three outs if I could just score Val. So if I could do my job, everyone else would do theirs too."
The clutch hit was the icing on a three-hit day for Fiessinger, her second of the season. She went 4-for-7 at the plate through the doubleheader with two doubles and a run scored.
"Valerie did a great job of getting into scoring position with a great swing," head softball coach Michael Graves said. "Abby fouled off some tough pictures and came through when her team needed her. That's what an All-American is supposed to do in that situation and she came through in a big way."
Seay was also stout at the plate, knocking in two doubles in the twin bill. Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) also surged through a slump with a 3-for-6 day, including a double and a run scored.
"I am happy to get a hard fought win over a good team, but I'm not happy about some little things we keep doing that put us in bad situations," Graves said "We didn't make those mistakes earlier in the season against really good teams so I'm not sure why it has become an issue now.
"We did have some really good swings today in game two but we have definitely got to be more consistent through the lineup. Valerie Seay had some great hits today and Taylor Scott had some quality at bats. It will help us down the stretch if those two keep it going."
GAME ONE: Anderson 4, Carson-Newman 1
Anderson struck first with timely extra-base hits. Mattie Hamilton led off the bottom of the second with a double to the right center field alleyway. Morgan Charter followed that up with an RBI triple to right to stake Anderson to a 1-0 lead. Charter came around to score a batter later on a single up the right field line from Breanna Hagerty.
Carson-Newman got a run back the next inning. Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) led off the top of the third with a base hit to right center. She took second on a wild pitch and came in to score when Valerie Seay (Cross Plain, Tenn.) doubled her in off the wall in left center. Seay narrowly missed out on her second home run of the season and tying the game.
Carson-Newman couldn't bring Seay around. A strikeout and two groundouts ended the Eagles' threat with them down 2-1 after 2.5 innings.
The Trojans added two more in the fifth in unearned fashion. Anderson loaded the bases off a throwing error at short, a fielder's choice on a sacrifice bunt and a bunt single.
All Anderson would need were groundouts to score the runs. Sydney Belcher and Hagerty obliged with RBI groundouts to short to give Anderson all it needed to secure a 4-1 win.
Allison Rager (Elkview, W.Va.) took a fourth straight loss in the circle to drop to 7-4. She gave up four hits and four runs, only two of which were earned in a complete-game effort. She struck out five and didn't walk anyone.
Harlie Duncan improved to 11-4 with the win. She struck out four and didn't walk anyone. Duncan worked around four hits.
GAME TWO: Carson-Newman 3, Anderson 2
Carson-Newman struck first in the night cap thanks to extra-base hits. Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) knocked a one-out double to left center before moving to third on a passed ball. Rager scored her easily with a double to put the Eagles up 1-0.
The Eagles added insurance in the fourth. Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) led off the inning with a double and moved to third on an Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) sacrifice bunt. Scott hit a sharp ground ball to short, Charter came to the plate to try to get Caldwell, but was tardy on the throw. Scott's RBI fielder's choice gave C-N a 2-0 advantage.
The Trojans leveled things up in the bottom of the sixth. Anderson got runners on second and third with a leadoff single from Kayson Boatner and a double from Charter to right. Hagerty came through with a timely knock through the right side to score both runners and level the game at 2-2. The Trojans advanced Hagerty over to third with a sacrifice. However, Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) kept the go-ahead run on the base paths with a punchout and a pop up back to the circle.
Carson-Newman got the clutch hits it needed to power back in front in the top of the seventh. Seay laced a one-out double to center field to get the go-ahead run on base. Rinus hit a deep fly ball to center field for the second out, but it was productive in moving Seay over to third. Facing an 0-2 count, Fiessinger banged in the winning run with a double to left.
C-N still wasn't out of danger though, Anderson got a potential walk-off run on base after a leadoff single from Kasey Grant and a one-out knock through the left side by Hamilton. However, Rinus got a punch out and induced a ground out to short to leave the tying and game-winning run on base.
Rinus got the win to improve to 7-2 in the circle in spite of giving up double-digit hits for a second straight game. She fanned four, walked one and allowed just two runs.
Kayla Pepper dropped to 8-9 with the loss. The Eagles knocked seven hits off her. All three runs that scored were earned.
C-N returns home Saturday to square off with Coker. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network at cneagles.com/live.