JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield garnered the 1,000th victory of her career with the Eagles' 6-0, 10-0 (five innings) doubleheader sweep of the Limestone Saints.
"There's no question that Carson-Newman's family," Kazee-Hollifield said. "But it was special to have my brother, my sister and my mother and father here. But where would I be without my assistants Nancy Branim and Michael Graves on the field with me? The same goes for Jesse Lee and Jay Bode who have meant the world to me and this program but couldn't be here today."
Kazee-Hollifield is the first coach in the South Atlantic Conference to 1,000 career victories in any sport. She becomes the 22nd coach at all levels and the sixth in Division II to reach the 1,000-victory plateau.
Kazee-Hollifield has more victories than Carson-Newman's football coach Ken Sparks (318), baseball coach Tom Griffin (251), men's basketball coach Chuck Benson (200), women's basketball coach Mike Mincey (46) and men's and women's soccer coach Richard Moodie (39) combined.
"I'm so thankful for all the kids I've had the opportunity to coach," Kazee-Hollifield said. "My pregame talk was for our players to come out and play like they were in the backyard. They handled the pressure well. I'm so proud they came out and played the way they did for two games straight."
As the Eagles entered the top of the fifth with an opportunity to run-rule the Saints, Sparks and the Carson-Newman football team poured out of Burke-Tarr Stadium and on to the hill just outside of left field. Meanwhile Griffin marched the Eagles baseball team out of their practice at the Silver Diamond and up Davis Street to watch the remainder of the game from the third baseline in front of the Pederson Nursing Building.
Sparks, who hired Kazee-Hollifield as a 23-year-old back in 1985 when he was athletic director, gave Kazee-Hollifield a bear hug in left field shortly after her players gave her a confetti shower at home plate.
"We (Ken and I) shared a few tears together and embraced one another and really just gave thanksgiving to the Lord," Kazee-Hollifield said. "He's (The Lord) the reason we're both here. We had to thank Him for the opportunity we've had and the friendship we've had together."
Kazee-Hollifield has a lifetime record off 1,000-329-1. The Eagles improved to 9-1 to start the season, Limestone falls to 6-2.
Carson-Newman director of athletics Allen Morgan and university president Dr. Randall O'Brien presented Kazee-Hollifield with a trophy following the game as well as the first pitch and the final out from her 1,000th win.
Game one: Carson-Newman 6, Limestone 0
In the 23 meetings between Carson-Newman and Limestone, the Eagles have shutout the Saints on 15 occasions. Game one of the doubleheader would be no different than many of the other meetings in the series as Sarah Howard (Georgetown, Ky.) fired a complete-game, one-hit shutout to improve to 4-1 on the season.
She struck out a career high six batters while only walking two. The Saints only brought one base runner to second the entire contest.
The Eagles produced all their runs in the second inning with extra base hits. Audrey Woodby (Knoxville, Tenn.) laced a one-out double to right center before Howard helped out her own cause to drive her in with a double of her own to left.
After a Jessica Morgan (Ooltewah, Tenn.) single through the left side, the reigning SAC Player of the Week Kelli Hensley (Knoxville, Tenn.) laced bounced a triple to left to clear the bases and give the Eagles a 3-0 lead. Jeanie Marie Perrucci (Knoxville, Tenn.) reached on an error and Elayna Siebert (Knoxville, Tenn.) walked before Sara Kelley (Ooltewah, Tenn.) cleared the bases with a double to provide all the run support the Eagles would need to pick up the victory.
Game two: Carson-Newman 10, Limestone 0 (five innings)
The Eagles used a pair of big innings in the second game to surge to the victory.
Carson-Newman used a five-run third and a four-run fourth to pick up the 10-0 run-rule win.
A Sara Kelley triple and back-to-back-to-back RBI single by Brittany Bass (Auburn, Ga.), Haley Taylor (Jefferson City, Tenn.) and Cassie Lyons (Knoxville, Tenn.) accounted for the scoring in the third.
The Eagles got rolling in the fifth with back-to-back doubles from Brittany Hefner (Talbott, Tenn.) and Elayna Siebert (Knoxville, Tenn.). Taylor cracked an inside-the-park homer to left to round out the scoring and give the Eagles enough runs for the mercy rule win.
Carson-Newman has now had an inside-the-park home run in three consecutive doubleheaders.
Kalyn Davis collected the win in the circle with her third shutout of the season. She's 4-0.
The Eagles hit the road Saturday for a doubleheader at Erskine.