SALISBURY, N.C. – Once again behind a dominant pitching performance from Allison Rager (Elkview, W.Va.), Carson-Newman (28-9) powered past Coker (31-17) and into the South Atlantic Conference title game for a third straight season.
The Eagles will go for the three-peat, which would be just the third in league history and second in school history, Sunday at 4 p.m. against Anderson from Whitely Field.
Carson-Newman battled to the 3-1 win over Coker to be in that position. For the Eagles, it's their third straight win in postseason play over Coker.
Rager struck out seven and scattered seven hits in the win to improve to 16-6 on the year. The one run that Coker scored against her was unearned. Rager only walked two.
She was also pivotal at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Rager, Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) and KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) all tallied their second multi-hit efforts of the tournament.
It took until the third inning for Carson-Newman to grab a lead. Fiessinger clobbered a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right center for a one-out solo bomb that gave Carson-Newman the lead. The Eagles kept it up with two out hitting in the inning. Rager looped a double to right before KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) drove her in with a single to left to give C-N a 2-0 lead.
Coker grabbed an unearned run back in the top of the fifth. Anna Gluhosky and Madison King led off the inning with singles back up the box. C-N settled down and got the next two outs with a strikeout and a fielder's choice to get the lead runner Gluhosky at third.
Ashley Meckley then bounced a ball deep into the hole at second. Meckley beat out the throw for a base hit, but Valerie Seay's (Cross Plains, Tenn.) toss to first was wide of the bag and allowed King to race home to bring Coker within one, 2-1.
Carson-Newman fought through trouble again in the sixth. Coker loaded the bases with three straight singles with one out. However, Rager got a K and a ground out back to the circle to end the threat.
The Eagles got that run back in the bottom of the inning. A single from Levi and a walk to Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) gave Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) a pair of base runners to work with. The senior came through, lacing a base hit through the right side to set the final margin at 3-1.
Coker did get the tying run on base in the top of the seventh with a walk and a hit batter, however, Rager got a ground out to end things.
Isabelle Mullen took the loss for Coker. She pitched a three-inning start with five hits and two runs allowed. She dropped to 10-3 with the decision.
Christine Carver hurled 2.1 innings of one-hit, one-run ball in relief, while Taylor Forehand closes things out with 0.2 innings of shutout, one-hit ball.
Carson-Newman faces Anderson for the SAC tournament crown Sunday at 4 p.m.