Carson-Newman hosts first regional, claims two seed

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (WVLT)— For the third straight year and 15th time overall, Carson-Newman softball is bound for NCAA regional play. For the first time in program history, the Eagles will act as a site host.

The Eagles will play host to a four-team sub-regional that features three other teams from the SAC. No. 23 and second-seeded Carson-Newman opens up the regional Thursday at 1 p.m. against seventh-seeded Anderson, the SAC tournament champs. Third-seeded Lincoln Memorial and sixth-seeded Wingate rounds out the other side of the bracket at 3:30 p.m.

"These girls worked hard for this," head softball coach Michael Graves said. "The girls got off to such a fast start, then battled through a couple tough weeks before coming on again at the end. We're hitting the ball at the right time, and pitching has been solid all year. We're really excited about this opportunity that's in front of us."

North Georgia is the other site host. The top-seeded Nighthawks play host to fourth-seeded Cooker, fifth-seeded Young Harris and Conference Carolinas tournament champion, eighth-seeded Lees-McRae.

All told, Carson-Newman is 6-6 against teams comprising this year's regional. The Eagles own a sweep of Young Harris and are 2-1 against Coker. The Eagles went 1-2 against Anderson and split with Wingate. Lincoln Memorial swept the Eagles. North Georgia and Lees-McRae were the only two teams in the regional that the Eagles haven't faced.

Carson-Newman has won a game in two of its last three trips to regionals. The Eagles picked up wins over Augusta 6-3 in 2015 and Georgia College 2-1 last year. Carson-Newman was two-and-out of the regional in 2017.

The Eagles are looking for their second ever appearance Super Regional appearance and the first since 2009. Carson-Newman opened that 2009 tournament with a 6-5 win over USC Aiken before defeating the host Lenoir-Rhyne Bears twice, 6-4 and 2-1 before heading to top-ranked North Georgia, where the Eagles fell 6-3 and 1-0 to the Nighthawks.

Carson-Newman and Anderson kickoff the sub-regional at 1 p.m. Thursday. All contests will be broadcast on the Eagle Sports Network at cneagles.com/live.