JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – No. 21 Carson-Newman (29-10) senior pitcher Allison Rager (Elkview, W.Va.) fired her second no-hitter in as many starts at home and the Eagles blast seventh-seeded Anderson in a five-inning run-rule win 13-0 in the first game at the Southeast Regional.
The Eagles advance in the winner's bracket to play the winner of Lincoln Memorial and Wingate Friday at 10 a.m. The Trojans play an elimination game Friday at 12:30 against the loser of that game.
"Can't say enough about the approach we have taken this week," Coach Michael Graves said. "Just the excitement from being around the girls and everything, it was a total team effort. They played to perfection. Allison had a lot of energy on the mound today. She had great command and ball movement and it didn't matter what pitch I called she was great.
Rager followed up a senior day no-hitter against Newberry with a postseason no-hitter against Anderson. She becomes the first Eagle with multiple no-hitters in a single season since Marci Mitchell in 2001. She improves to 17-7 on the year. Rager only struck out one. The only two base runners who reached on her came on walks.
She was also 1-for-3 at the plate with three RBI.
"My defense just played great behind me and made great plays all day," Rager said. "I trusted they were behind me to back me up and I made my pitches work. In past games, we've had big leads and have just talked about pouring it on and not give up and I think that was our mindset at the plate as well."
Carson-Newman grabbed the lead in the bottom of the second in a big way. The Eagles batted around and scored seven runs off of four hits in the inning.
The Eagles loaded the bases with one out with a hit batter, a Taylor Scott (Huntingon, W.Va.) single to center and a fielder's choice. The Eagles got the rally rolling with Ashtyn Patterson (Andersonville, Tenn.). She knocked a bases-loaded single to center to score Rager.
Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) then got plunked to give the Eagles a 2-0 advantage. Carson-Newman kept things rolling. Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) bounced a ball to right center to score two and give the Eagles a 4-0 lead. After a strikeout, Rager came through with a massive two-out knock. She laced a ball off the fence in left-center to clear the bases and push C-N's lead to 7-0.
Carson-Newman scored twice more in the bottom of the third. With runners on second and first, Rinus clocked a ball to center. She drove in Patterson, while Anderson centerfielder Meghan Majeski bobbled the ball allowing Sohm to race home to push the Eagles' advantage to 9-0.
The Eagles struck for four more in the bottom of the fourth. Scott and KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) knocked back-to-back one out doubles to left to score the first run of the inning. An RBI fielder's choice from Sohm, and a two-run single through the right side from Rinus rounded out the scoring to give Carson-Newman a 13-0 lead that would stand for the win.
The Eagles were beyond clutch with runners. C-N went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
Kayla Pepper took the loss to fall to 15-13. She pitched 1.2 innings in a start, allowing four hits and seven runs. Harlie Duncan finished the game out with 2.1 innings of four-hit, six-run ball.
"When we found out we were playing Anderson we know they were a good team but we felt that last game we dug ourselves a hole and got behind early," Graves said. "We spent a lot of energy getting back into the lead so we wanted to come out today and prove we are the better team. Ashtyn had a really good day today and she's one of those kids who is happy no matter where we place her. She's a great team player and I'm glad she's succeeding for us."
The win marks the Eagles' eighth regional victory in their last nine trips to postseason play.
Carson-Newman and the winner of Wingate and LMU's matchup will play Friday at 10 a.m. Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network at cneagles.com/live.