JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (18-7, 5-7 South Atlantic Conference) pounded out a combined 23 runs and 23 hits en route to crushing Tusculum (17-15, 5-7 SAC) in a Tuesday afternoon twinbill at the Vickee Kazee-Hollifield Softball Complex.
Carson-Newman won game one 6-3 before pounding Tusculum 17-4 in the night cap. The 17 runs are the most C-N has scored in a game since beating Brevard 23-1 in the Tornados farewell campaign through the SAC in 2016.
"This is what we are capable of doing," Carson-Newman head softball coach Michael Graves said. "We adjusted our approach at the plate, and aside from the bottom of the third and the top of the fourth in game two, we played to our capabilities. Our pitching and defense have been sound and solid all year. Hopefully the change in the calendar has helped our offense move forward and continue to move forward."
After hitting .198 for the month of March, Carson-Newman pounced on pitch after pitch and hit .426 for the twin bill. Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) went 4-for-5 at the plate for the doubleheader with a double and two RBI. Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) was 5-for-7 with a pair off doubles, a grand slam and seven driven in.
Furthermore, the Eagles were highly productive with runners. Carson-Newman hit 13-for-27 with RISP for the doubleheader, including 10-for-18 in game two alone. The Eagles were 12-for-20 with runners on base in general in the night cap.
The SAC sweep is Carson-Newman's first since walking it off twice against Wingate on March 30 last year. The wins extend the Eagles' win streak at home against Tusculum to six consecutive games.
GAME ONE: Carson-Newman 6, Tusculum 3
Carson-Newman grabbed an early lead in the bottom of the first. Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) led off the game with a walk and moved to third when Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) knocked her 12th double of the year off the wall in right center.
With two in scoring position, KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) came through with a well struck ball to short. Rinus strolled home for an RBI ground out and the Eagles took a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles got the offense rolling again in the fifth. Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) led off the inning with an infield single to short. The next AB, Rinus stung a ball to left for a base hit. Tusculum leftfielder Taylor Battle misplayed it and a two-base error allowed Sohm to score and Rinus to take third.
Fiessinger kept the good times rolling with a base hit back up the box to plate Rinus and stake Carson-Newman to a 3-0 lead.
The Eagles kept at it in the bottom of the sixth. Ashtyn Patterson (Andersonville, Tenn.) led off the inning with her first career hit, an infield single to short. Sohm moved her to second with a base hit up the left field line to set the table for Rinus.
The junior smashed a triple over the head of the left fielder to plate both runners and give C-N a 5-0 lead. Fiessinger smashed a base hit back up the box to finish the scoring for the Eagles and give C-N a 6-0 cushion heading to the seventh.
Tusculum got three runs back in that frame. Taylor Johnson logged a two-RBI double to right center and Emma Casey knocked an RBI single to right to pull Tusculum with in three. However, Allison Rager (Elkview, W.Va.) induced a 1-6-3 double play and a foul out to first and give C-N the win.
Rager went the distance in the circle to improve to 9-4. She struck out five and only walked one. Tusculum tallied five hits, three of which came in the final inning. Rager retired 11 consecutive from the first inning through the fifth inning. Of the three runs she allowed, two were earned.
Tusculum's Ivee Richesin took the loss to fall to 6-4. She gave up nine hits. Of the six runs C-N scored, five were earned. She walked two and struck out three.
Fiessinger and Rinus led C-N at the plate. Fiessinger tallied her fifth three-hit day and drove in two with a double. Rinus also drove in two and went 2-for-3 for her fifth multi-hit effort of the year.
Sohm also logged a multi-hit day, the fifth of the year for her and the first since Feb. 15.
GAME TWO: Carson-Newman 17, Tusculum 4 (five innings)
Carson-Newman again struck early to start game two. The Eagles got two aboard without an out after Rinus reached on an error at second and Fiessinger walked. KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) moved the pair into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.
Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) then cashed in the two runners. She ripped a laser beam into the left center alley way for a two-run double that put the Eagles up 2-0.
The Eagles kept the foot on the accelerator in the second. Carson-Newman sent 13 to the plate and scored nine runs off of eight hits and a Tusculum error in the inning.
A single from Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) got the party started. A sacrifice and a wild pitch gave the Eagles a base runner on third for Sohm, who drove in the flex player Seay with a single off the pitcher.
Carson-Newman followed with an RBI double from Fiessinger, a two-run single through the left side from Levi and a bloop-RBI single to left center for Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) gave C-N a 7-0 lead.
However, the Eagles weren't done. With the bases loaded, Tusculum traded a run for an out on a Cooper RBI ground out to short.
Then the Eagles got some two-out magic to score the final three runs. Natalie Lankster (Hendersonville, Tenn.) clobbered her third double of the year to left center to score two before Sohm rounded out the scoring with a double to right center to plate Lankster. When the dust settled, Carson-Newman led 11-0 through two.
The Pioneers got two back in the top of the fourth. Brittany Franse and Sammie West both delivered RBI singles to make it an 11-2 game.
The Eagles broke it back open in the bottom of the fourth. Lankster worked a bases-loaded walk, Peyton Bacon (Greeneville, Tenn.) knocked an RBI single down the right field line to keep the bases loaded and set the table for Fiessinger. The junior belted a grand slam into the pine trees in left to put the Eagles up 17-2.
Tusculum scored twice more in the top of the fifth to set the final margin at 17-4. It's the most runs that Carson-Newman has scored in a league doubleheader since a 23-1 win over Brevard in 2016.
Rinus notched the win in the circle. She improved to 8-3 in the four-inning win. Rinus allowed seven hits and two runs, both earned.
Taylor Plemons dropped to 5-5 in a 1.2-inning start. She gave up nine hits and 11 runs, six of which were earned.
Fiessinger, Caldwell, Sohm and Scott all logged multi-hit efforts in the nightcap. Fiessinger's grand slam was the first for C-N since Katie Pritchett pounded one against Lenoir-Rhyne in the first round of last year's SAC tournament. She also collected Carson-Newman's first five-RBI day since Morgan Crawford drove in five on Feb. 28, 2018 against Concord.
Lankster drove in a career-high three RBI.
Carson-Newman returns to action Saturday against league-leading Lenoir-Rhyne. First pitch with Bears is set for 1 p.m. Follow @CNathletics on Twitter for live coverage of the contests.