CCU softball starts season at Kickin’ Chicken Classic

The Coastal Carolina Chanticleer softball team opens its 2018 season Friday as they host the first of three weekend tournaments starting with the annual Kickin’ Chicken Classic at CCU Softball Stadium.

This year’s field includes Iowa State out of the Big 12, the SoCon’s UNC Greensboro Spartans, Presbyterian Blue Hose out of the Big South and the #20 ranked team in the NFCA preseason poll, the NEC’s Saint Francis Red Flash.

Coastal comes into the season after completing a 32-23 record with a 10-16 record in the Sun Belt Conference in 2017. Last Friday, the Chants were voted by the coaches to tie for seventh in the conference. CCU returns 13 players from a season ago and are led by redshirt senior Amanda Daneker, and seniors TimiTooley and Kailey Mellen, and junior pitcher Ashley Guillette.

In 2017, Tooley was the defensive leader in the outfield as she started all 55 games in centerfield while having an outfield-high five assists. At the plate, the senior tied for second on the team with 10 doubles.

Mellen played in all 55 games and saw time at three different positions. The majority of her playing time came as the designated player where she saw action in 32 games. The Arizona native hit .319 and had 12 doubles, which were good for second on the Chanticleers club.

After returning from a 2016 injury, Daneker came back last season but again was limited to 40 games due to injury. The Pennsylvania native was able to hit .265, highlighted by seven multi-hit games, including a three out of five game stretch which saw her have at least two hits. The redshirt senior is looking to return to her 2014 and 2015 form as she was named to the Big South All-Freshman Team and to the conference’s second team both years. In 2014, Daneker hit .304 and hit seven round-trippers. 2015 was even better as the then-sophomore had a career-high .340 batting average, seven doubles, and six home runs.

Guillette is the lone Chanticleer pitcher to return from last season’s squad as she ended up with a team-high 13 wins and staff-best 2.48 ERA which was 7th best in the Sun Belt. She also led the conference with four saves and allowed opponents to hit a paltry .191 while striking out 182 (3rd best in the Sun Belt, 17th highest in the nation per/7 IP) in 149.2 innings.

Coastal’s first pitch versus Iowa State is scheduled for 5 p.m., so follow all of the action checking out goCCUsports.com/sports/w-softbl.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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