HARTSVILLE, S.C. – For a league-record 10th time, top-seeded Carson-Newman (43-11) hoisted a trophy skyway as South Atlantic Conference tournament champions.
The Eagles tallied a two-hit shutout over Coker for a 2-0 victory to run to the title.
"This was a total team effort the entire weekend," Carson-Newman head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "I can't say enough for the work Laci Rinus did. This team is playing so strong together. They have accomplished so much in a highly competitive conference. This team is having fun and working as hard as any coach could possibly ask. Coach Graves and I are thrilled that their hard work and their love of the game is still driving them for more."
Carson-Newman pulls off the double, earning both regular season and tournament trophies in the same season, for the first time since 2008. The Eagles are tournament champs for the first time since 2009. The Eagles are now guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament. Carson-Newman will be in the Southeast Regional for a second time in three seasons.
The Eagles sprinted the tournament in unbeaten fashion. Carson-Newman opened the tournament with a tight 4-3 win over Queens before run-ruling Coker 11-3 in six innings. Saturday play saw C-N walk it off against Lenoir-Rhyne 1-0 before downing Coker again 2-0.
This represents a fourth consecutive tournament championship that Carson-Newman has won by running through the conference tournament in unbeaten fashion.
Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro. Tenn.) powered the Eagles on the day in the circle. The freshman fanned six against three walks to improve to 26-5 on the year. She dealt back-to-back two-hit shutouts to send C-N home with the title.
Carson-Newman drew first blood in the second. A leadoff single by KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), followed by one-out base hits for Cheyenne Boles (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) loaded the bases for the Eagles.
Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) wore a two-out pitch with the bases juiced to score the game's first run. A pop up to second from Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) ended the threat before the Eagles could do any more damage.
The Eagles loaded the bases again in the fourth. Allison Webster (Charlestown, Ind.) doubled down the left field line with one out to start the party. Fiessinger followed that with a single to short before Toppel got plunked to load the bases.
Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) worked a bases-loaded walk to bring in the second run of the day for the Eagles with one out. C-N missed an opportunity to do further damage in the inning. Rinus flied out to center field looking for a SAC fly, but Fiessinger was gunned down at the plate to end the inning.
Carson-Newman shut the door on the Cobras the rest of the way. The Cobras got a two out single from Cacey Simmons in the sixth. Hannah Price got hit by a pitch with one out in the seventh. However, a pair of ground balls to second ended the contest and gave C-N the title.
Augusta Jackson took the loss to drop to 8-3 for the Cobras. She allowed six hits and two runs in her 3.1 innings of work. Christine Carver worked 2.2 innings of one-hit, shutout ball to close the game.
Carson-Newman's Rinus limited the Cobras to an 0-for-8 effort with runners on base. C-N went 3-for-13 with runners.
The Eagles will find out their NCAA tournament fate on May 8 with the NCAA's selection show.