WINGATE, N.C. – Carson-Newman (23-8, 8-8 South Atlantic Conference) bounced back from a 4-1 loss to hand Wingate (30-16, 9-9 SAC) its worst home loss of the year with a 10-3 lambasting in the nightcap of a doubleheader at the Wingate Softball Complex Monday afternoon.
Wingate was 19-2 at home prior to the Eagles' seven-run win in the nightcap. The Bulldogs previous home losses had come by just a run, 6-5 to Catawba and 3-2 to Queens.
"We had a much better approach in the box in game two, obviously," Carson-Newman head softball coach Michael Graves said. "We laid off the junk and hit good pitches. That is what we are capable of all the time when we hit what we want to hit instead of what the pitcher wants us to hit. As crazy as this conference has been this year there is still a lot to play for."
The split keeps Carson-Newman a game back of a four-way tie for first place atop the league standings. However, it also means that the Eagles are a half game away from missing the league tournament with four games to play. Furthermore, the Eagles only have a two-game lead on "last-place" Mars Hill, Tuesday's opponent (we're using quotes there because it really doesn't feel like Mars Hill is in last place).
Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) led Carson-Newman's offensive attack. She was 4-for-8 at the plate with two runs scored. Fiessinger extended a hitting streak out to eight games with a sixth three-hit day in the nightcap. Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) tallied a 3-for-7 day with three runs batted in and two doubles.
GAME ONE: Wingate 4, Carson-Newman 1
Both teams took advantage of slight miscues to score their first runs of the day.
In the top of the first, Wingate loaded the bases with one out after a Naomi Sapp infield single to second, a Mary Claire Coyne double to right and a four-pitch walk to Aubrey Reep. A fielder's choice and a 5-2 putout at the plate put the second out on the board and brought Jordan Floyd to the plate.
Floyd worked a 10-pitch bases-loaded walk to bring in the go-ahead run.
Carson-Newman would respond in the next half inning.
Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) worked a one-out walk on seven pitches to give the Eagles a base runner. After a foul out to third, Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) gave the Eagles a pair of runners in scoring position with a double to left. Caldwell would then race home to score on a passed ball to level things up 1-1.
Wingate would retake the lead in the bottom of the third. Floyd ripped a two-out, two-run blast to right center to propel Wingate to a 3-1 lead.
The Bulldogs added another run in the bottom of the fourth. A leadoff single to center for Taylor Well and an Emma Swenson double to left center gave Wingate two in scoring position with one out. Sapp legged out an infield single to second to plate Wells and push Wingate's advantage to 4-1.
Carson-Newman got Coyne to line into a double play to end the threat and keep the damage to a run.
The Eagles brought the tying run to the plate in the sixth inning after a single by Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) and a walk to Allison Rager (Elkview, W.Va.), but a pop up and a strikeout ended C-N's threat.
Rachel Weidner got the win for Wingate to improve to 15-7. She struck out a career high 13 and only allowed three hits. Carson-Newman's lone run was unearned.
Rager took the loss for C-N to fall to 12-4. She gave up nine hits and four runs, all earned. Rager struck out four and walked three.
Scott tallied a multi-hit effort in defeat for C-N.
GAME TWO: Carson-Newman 10, Wingate 3
Carson-Newman pounced on Wingate early in game two. The Eagles sent nine to the plate and scored four times in the top of the first.
The Eagles got two aboard to start the game with a double for Rinus and an error on a fielder's choice for Fiessinger.
KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) scored the opening run with an RBI double to right center. Caldwell followed suit with a bloop single to left, plating Fiessinger.
After back-to-back groundouts and a walk to Natalie Lankster (Hendersonville, Tenn.), Ashtyn Patterson (Andersonville, Tenn.) delivered a base hit back up the box to score two and give C-N a 4-0 advantage.
The Eagles would need that cushion as Wingate lit the lamp three times in the bottom of the first. Coyne knocked a one-out single to left center to score one, then Aubrey Reep went yard to left for two more. The dust settled at the end of one with C-N leading 4-3.
Carson-Newman countered with six unanswered over the next two innings.
In the second, Carson-Newman loaded the bases with two outs after a Fiessinger single to right, a Caldwell single to left and a walk to Rager. Scott roped the first pitch she got off the wall in right center to clear the bases and push the Eagles lead to 7-3.
The Eagles kept their foot on the accelerator in the third. Carson-Newman got two aboard to start the inning when Patterson reached on a fielding error at second and Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) nipped an infield single to third.
That set the table for Rinus. She bounced one back up the gut to score Patterson for an RBI. A throwing error by Emma Swenson in center allowed Sohm to come in as well, and Rinus to move over to third. Levi rounded out the scoring in the inning, scoring her fellow Murfreesboro, Tenn.-native with a double to left center. Levi's lick would set the final margin at 10-3.
Rinus logged the win in the circle to improve to 10-3. She gave up four hits and three runs, all earned. She struck out four and walked three.
Aubrey Reep took the loss to drop to 14-6. She worked the first 0.2 innings, giving up four hits and four runs.
Weidner fired 1.1 innings in relief before she was chances after three hits and three unearned runs.
Kaitlyn Knuckles finished out the game for Wingate. In 5.0 innings, she allowed seven hits and three runs, two of which were earned.
The Eagles get back at it Tuesday at Mars Hill. First pitch against the Lions is slated for 2 p.m. Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network at cneagles.com/live.