JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (29-12) made a school-record seven errors and the conference's top scoring offense in Lincoln Memorial (37-13) pounced to score five unearned runs in a 7-5 win over the Eagles in eight innings Friday morning at The Vickee Kazee-Hollifield Softball Complex.
The win moves LMU on to the championship game Saturday at noon. The Eagles play in an elimination game at approximately 3:30 p.m. Friday afternoon against the winner of an elimination game between Anderson and Wingate.
"We dug ourselves a hole early making some errors," Coach Michael Graves said. "We don't make a lot of errors throughout the year but when we make some in a game they compound. I thought we fought back pretty good and we made some adjustments. Hats off to LMU. They won that error column seven to nothing so that's the tale of the tape."
The loss underscored a furious rally for the Eagles. Carson-Newman overcame a five-run deficit after 5.5 innings only for two unearned runs to undue the Eagles in the top of the eighth.
Ty-Kella Goins, Emma Webb and Savannah Daniel all tallied multi-hit efforts. Goins drove in two.
Allison Rager (Elkview, W.Va.) was the hard luck loser for C-N. She gave up 10 hits and all seven runs, but only two of those were earned. She drops to 17-8 on the year.
Bailey Griffith got the win in relief for LMU. She pitched 3.0 innings, allowing four hits and three runs.
Lincoln Memorial took advantage of defensive miscues from the Eagles to grab the lead in the second. The Railsplitters loaded the bases without an out thanks to an error, a fielder's choice on a sacrifice bunt and a base hit to left.
Rager looked to nearly be out of the jam after inducing an infield fly to second and getting a ground ball to second to retire the lead runner at home. However, All-SAC second baseman Ty-Kella Goins blooped a ball to left that dropped in with Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) playing back. Goins drove in one, then a fielding error by Fiessinger and a throwing error by Leah Sohm (Corryton, Tenn..) let the second and third runs come in to give LMU an early 3-0 lead.
The Railsplitters tallied more two-out magic in the fourth. A single, a sacrifice and a strikeout gave the Railsplitters a runner on second and two out. Savannah Daniel looped a knock down the left field line that bounced in and out of Fiessinger's glove as she made a diving effort. Instead, Daniel doubled and drove in a run. Goins followed with a two-out single back up the box to put the Railsplitters up 5-0.
Carson-Newman got it all back in the bottom of the sixth. The Eagles loaded the bases with three straight singles from Fiessinger, Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) and Rager. After a foul out, Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) looped a ball down the left field line to score two.
Then, Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) tied the game with her fifth home run of the year, a no-doubter into the pine trees in left.
"I'm proud of the mentality they have when they're in those situations and behind in games," Graves said. "We've won a lot more games when we've been down five runs than we have lost. Again, I'm proud of that mentality in that aspect and Allison is very good at getting out of jams with runners on base. I told them when the game was over we can't blame anyone but ourselves. A few of the errors were just frustration and others we misjudged. We talked about it and we're going to forget it and move forward towards the next game."
LMU took the lead in the top of the eighth thanks to more Carson-Newman miscues. The Railsplitters scored the go-ahead run on a fielding error at second. Then added another run on a sacrifice fly from Kelsie Hocutt on a play aided by obstruction at the plate.
Carson-Newman had a chance in the bottom of the eighth. The Eagles loaded the bases with two outs, but a pop up to the circle ended things.
Scott and Cooper drove in all five of the Eagles runs. Caldwell, Sohm and Cooper all had multi-hit efforts.
Carson-Newman returns to action in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Friday.