C-N’s Kazee-Hollifield records career win No. 1,000
Carson-Newman softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield picked up her 1,000th career victory Thursday as her Lady Eagles swept a doubleheader from visiting Limestone College in Jefferson City. Hollifield was joined on the field by family, friends and her team to celebrate.
JEFFERSON CITY — They arrived just in time. Filing in from the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex, Holt Fieldhouse and Burke-Tarr Stadium, a host of Carson-Newman athletes arrived at the softball field to see history. With three quick outs, the Carson-Newman softball team dispatched visiting Limestone in the second game of their doubleheader 10-0, but also achieved something else.
The victory was No. 1,000 for C-N coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield, and she got it in front of her family, friends, fellow coaches and about 200 Carson-Newman athletes in the stadium that bears her name.
As the game was wrapping up, Hollifield didn’t know what was happening, not until she saw the baseball and football teams show up en masse.
“We’re a family here and there’s a special relationship,” Kazee-Hollifield said, her voice cracking. “(Baseball coach) Tom Griffin is always in my corner and I hope he feels that I’m always in his corner. I first saw the baseball team so I got tickled, but it wasn’t two minutes later that I saw the football team coming. When I saw Coach (Ken) Sparks, we go way back, when I saw him and his troops coming up, it was just so special.”
It wasn’t only special for Kazee-Hollifield. Her players on the field still needed three more outs to seal the mercy-rule shortened win. At first base, senior Caitlyn Lance was taking it all in, including the vocal contingent of her fellow C-N athletes.
“It was an incredible feeling,” Lance said. “It just shows how much we all support each other on anything. It’s just as exciting for them as it was for us for Coach (Hollifield) to get her 1,000th win. The adrenaline was going. It was really fun. You play for moments like these and to get a win like this, especially with all these girls. I couldn’t ask anything more.”
Limestone (6-2) came in undefeated should have been anything but a pushover. But these Lady Eagles (9-1) would make sure early there would be no question who would win both games of the doubleheader. In the opening game C-N spread 10 hits across seven innings, racking up six runs in the second for a 6-0 shutout win. Game two didn’t make it past five innings, with the Lady Eagles crushing the Saints 10-0.
“I couldn’t have been more pleased,” Kazee-Hollifield said. “I knew it would be a tough day for the kids. We haven’t talked about it, but I know that they know it. They were tough and played pretty relaxed. You just stick with a regular routine and that’s what I tried to do today.”
Everything worked for Carson-Newman. Sarah Howard pitched a one-hitter in game one and Kalyn Davis game up just two hits in game two. Seniors Sara Kelley and former Morristown West standout Brittany Hefner racked up the RBIs. Hefner knocked in two and Kelley continued her dominant season, sending in four in two games. Haley Taylor, as a pinch hitter, hit an inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning, scoring three runs, giving her four RBIs in the game. For Kelley, a four-year starter like Lance, the performance wasn’t a surprise.
“The relationship and team chemistry we have here is second to none,” Kelley said. “I’ve played with a lot of great girls these last four years. It’s been an awesome experience and it’s heartwarming to be part of this. She (Kazee-Hollifield) helped us grow as people. I was a baby when I got here, but she pushed me and I’m the best ballplayer I’ve ever been.”
C-N will hit the road over the next few weeksbefore returning home on March 8 to take on Georgia Regents University-Augusta in a doubleheader.
-By Adam Greene, Tribune Correspondent