HARTSVILLE, S.C. - The lower half of Carson-Newman's (40-11) lineup came through with a slew of clutch hits to move on in the winner's bracket in the opening round of the 2017 South Atlantic Conference Softball Tournament.
The top-seeded Eagles knocked off Queens 4-3. With the victory, Carson-Newman has 40 wins in a season for the first time since 2008.
Lacie Rinus pitched the Eagles to the win. She struck out seven and walked two. Rinus also had a multi-hit effort at the plate.
Carson-Newman took advantage of a Queens miscue to grab the lead in the first. Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) reached on a booted ball by the shortstop before Rinus singled with two out.
KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) took advantage of the situation by blooping a ball down the leftfield line that plated Scott for an unearned run. The Eagles were unable to do further damage, however, and left the bases loaded with a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles added to that lead in the second. Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) drilled her fourth bomb of the year. It was the third leadoff dinger for Carson-Newman this season.
The moonshot gave C-N a 2-0 lead.
Queens evened things up in the top of the fourth all with two out. Brooke Sanford singled through the right side. A hit batsman and base on balls loaded things up. Then Sydney Ditto ripped a sinker to right that plated two to even the score.
The Eagles quickly grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the fourth. Cooper worked a one-out walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Allison Webster (Charlestown, Ind.) singled to center to drive her in a put C-N up 3-2. The Eagles got a single from Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) and moved two base runners into scoring position on a wild pitch. However, Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) missed a home run by a couple feet and flied out to left to end the inning.
The Eagles' lead was short-lived. Abby Lathan cranked a 1-0 pitch over the centerfield pitch to tie it up at three apiece in the top of the fifth.
Carson-Newman quickly retook the lead though. A Rinus single followed by a Levi sacrifice gave the Eagles a runner in scoring position with one out. Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) came through with a clutch single to center to plate Rinus and put the Eagles up 4-3.
Queens managed to get the tying run on with one out in the seventh, but Rinus induced back-to-back flyouts to cement the win.
Rinus improved to 23-5 with the win.
Courtney Pearson was hit with the loss. She falls to 14-17 on the year. Pearson allowed nine hits. She gave up four runs, but three were earned. Pearson struck out three and walked two.
Carson-Newman advances to a noon game Friday against the winner of Coker's matchup with Anderson. The Royals face the loser of that contest in an elimination game.