May 15, 2011

Lenoir-Rhyne rallies to defeat Lady Eagles, 2-1, in NCAA Southeast Regional finals

HICKORY, N.C. — Lenoir-Rhyne's Haily Jarman delivered a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the second-seeded Bears to a 2-1 victory over the sixth-seeded Carson-Newman softball team on Sunday afternoon in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional championship at Bears Field.

With the loss, the Lady Eagles wrap up their season with a record of 41-17-1. The sixth-ranked Bears (44-8) advance to the Super Regionals for a second straight year.

"It was just another typical Carson-Newman and Lenoir-Rhyne softball game," C-N head coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "The Eagles just came up a little bit short. When your errors match your hits, that's pretty much going to be the outcome of what happened today."

C-N held the lead for most of the game after Amber Hewitt (Ringgold, Ga.) produced a RBI single in the third to give the Lady Eagles a 1-0 lead.

Junior pitcher Mary Shealy (Clinton, S.C.) then held off the Bears for the next 3 1/2 innings with the help of a stellar play in the home half of the third. Lenoir-Rhyne loaded the bases with no outs, but Shealy forced Jarman to hit into a 1-2-3 double play and retired the next batter to get out of the inning unscathed.

However, the Bears took advantage of a C-N error in the seventh to spark the game-winning rally. Megan Laxton led off the frame with a single up the middle. After Shealy retired the next batter, Jody Mizelle reached on a fielding error, and Kat Rivers drew a walk to load the bases. Jarman then ripped the ball through the left side, driving in Laxton and Mizelle to end the game.

The Lady Eagles finished the game with three errors.

"I reminded them before the game that we had to keep it clean against Lenoir-Rhyne," Hollifield said. "We did not keep it clean, and that's the reason we are heading home."

C-N tallied three hits for the game, as Hewitt, Bri Shoemake (Ooltewah, Tenn.) and Caitlyn Lance (East Ridge, Tenn.) each had a single.

Lenoir-Rhyne collected seven hits, including a 2-for-2 effort from Laxton. Jarman and Brandi Haithcock each contributed a double in the win.

Bears starting hurler Dawon Millwood (27-4) earned the win after giving up one run and three hits and striking out four batters in seven innings of work.

Shealy (38-15) took the loss, surrendering two runs (none earned) and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings in the circle. She also had three strikeouts on the day.

The Lady Eagles conclude another successful season as they earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament for a South Atlantic Conference record seventh straight year and 11th year overall under Hollifield. C-N also won 40 or more games for the ninth time during Hollifield's career.