VIDEO: Michael Graves Interview
VIDEO: Taylor Scott Interview
VIDEO: Allison Rager Interview
VIDEO: Abby Fiessinger Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (26-9, 11-9 South Atlantic Conference) came into Monday's twinbill with Newberry (29-15, 11-9 SAC) in search of a SAC regular season title. All the Eagles need was a sweep and help from Coker, Catawba and Mars Hill.
The Eagles didn't receive the necessary help from Catawba, but got a solid consolation prize in a fourth sweep of a regionally-ranked team.
"We came out strong from the get go," head softball coach Michael Graves said. "I'm thrilled with the effort. The tempo was there. I had a lot of nervous energy walking around before the games. The kids told me they had it today. They certainly did."
Allison Rager (Elkview, W.Va.) twirled the first seven-inning no-hitter for Carson-Newman in three years in a 6-0 game-one win before the Eagles matched a school record with five home runs in the night cap for a 12-4 run-rule win.
"She did a great of keeping the ball down and moving," Graves said. "She was able to keep people off balance mixing in some off speed pitches. The bottom line is she's really tough to hit when she's keeping the ball down around the knee with her movement."
Rager hit three batters and walked one in the complete-game, no-hit shutout in game one. It's the first no-hitter for Carson-Newman since Alli Webster no-hit Bluefield State in 2017. Webster is also the owner of the last seven-inning no-hitter, doing so against Anderson in 2016.
She picked up a win in relief in the nightcap, firing 2.2 innings of one-hit shutout ball for Carson-Newman to collect the run-rule win.
Rager had double the run support in the night cap. Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) and Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) both homered twice. Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) went yard once. The five home runs match a single-game school record for dingers. C-N sent five out of the park against Mars Hill in 2006 and Bluefield State in 2015.
Scott finished with 10th-most RBI in a single game in school history by driving in five. Her first home run was a three-run shot. Her second was a two-run bomb that ended the game via the run-rule.
Fiessinger finished 3-for-4 on the day with two bombs, a double and three batted in. She was on base 7-of-8 times she appeared at the plate.
Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) logged a pair of multi-hit games. She went 5-for-8 with two doubles. Caldwell and Scott were both 3-for-7 and with two extra-base hits each.
Carson-Newman tallied 19 hits for the doubleheader, nine of which were for extra bases.
"We had a conversation last week," Graves said. "I had put too much pressure on them. We had a meeting to try to remove that pressure. We change our approach at the plate/. We're going to find a pitch we like, and just hit it as hard as we can hit it."
The wins means Carson-Newman finishes tied for second in the conference standings.
GAME ONE: Carson-Newman 6, Newberry 0
Carson-Newman grabbed an early 3-0 lead after loading the bases in the first. Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) singled to right center, Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.) walked and Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) reached on an error at third on a sacrifice bunt.
That set the table for Allison Rager (Elkview, W.Va.). The senior ripped one between the third baseman's legs to score two. Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) made it a three-run inning with a knock through the right side to plate Rager.
Carson-Newman padded the lead in the fourth. Valerie Seay (Cross Plains, Tenn.) got plunked with one out and moved to second on a Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) groundout to third. Rinus came through with a timely two-out knock. The Murfreesboro, Tenn.-native lofted a ball over the head of the left fielder to plate Seay from two bases away to give C-N a 4-0 cushion.
The Eagles added more in the fifth. Rinus and Fiessinger hit back-to-back one-out doubles to center. Fiessinger's knocked in Rinus to push the Eagles' lead to 5-0. The double was the 16th of the year for Fiessinger. KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) kept the party rolling with a two-out single back up the middle to set the Eagles up 6-0.
Rager logged the win to improve to 13-6 She only gave up four base runners on the day, three via hit batsman, and two via a walk. The no-hitter came on just 95 pitches.
Alyssa Ball took the loss in a one-inning start to fall to 12-5. She gave up three runs off three hits in the first inning. Chelsea Cunningham pitched the final five frames, allowing three runs off five hits
GAME TWO: Carson-Newman 12, Newberry 4 (six inning)
Newberry struck first in game two. Paige Meyer led off the game with an infield single to third, then Mackenzie Barneycastle drove her in with a towering RBI triple to the right centerfield gap to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead. Rinus settled down an struck out the side after that to leave Barneycastle stranded on third.
Carson-Newman wasted no time in responding. Fiessinger and Haley Caldwell (Kenova, W.Va.) went back-to-back with home runs to left center and right center respectively to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead. Fiessinger's jack was her eighth of the year, while Caldwell's was her ninth. Fiessinger's blast came on the first pitch of the at-bat. Caldwell's on a 2-2.
The Wolves countered in the third. Leah Sohm mishandled a throw on a steal at short that saw the tying run come in in Barneycastle. Then, Hanna Davis drove in Natalie Willis with a two-out double to right center to put the Wolves up 3-2.
The see-saw battle continued in the bottom of the third. Fiessinger tanked the first pitch of her at-bat to right to lead off the bottom of the third. She became the first Eagle since Caldwell against New Haven last year to hit two home runs in one game. The solo shot leveled the score 3-3.
Carson-Newman got more in the frame. Caldwell singled to center and Rager walked. Scott came up with two outs and appeared to strike out before Selice Daley was called for an illegal pitch to give her at-bat second life. Scott took advantage by homering for the first time in 140 at-bats. The three-run blast into the alleyway in left center gave C-N a 6-3 lead.
Newberry got some of it back in the top of the fourth. Cunningham drove in Reagan Glanz with a base hit to right center to make it 6-4. Rager re-entered in the circle for Rinus in the inning, and got the final two outs to strand the tying run at first.
The Eagles extended the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Rinus and Fiessinger got a board with one out thanks to a single through the left side and a walk, respectively. Caldwell doubled in Rinus with a knock down the left field line. Levi rounded out the scoring with a two-run single up the middle to put the Eagles up 9-4 through four.
Carson-Newman stretched the lead to six in the bottom of the fifth. Sohm scored on a drop fly ball in right that stretched the advantage to 10-4.
The Eagles won it in walk-off fashion in the bottom of sixth. Scott hit her second rocket of the day off the top of the fence in left center to end it early 12-4.
Rager got the win in relief with 2.2 innings of one-hit shutout softball. Selice Daley took the loss in a three-inning start. She gave up five hits and six runs in falling to 11-7.
The Eagles open up the SAC tournament Friday in Salisbury, N.C.