Coastal softball opens new season, stadium Saturday

ccusoft-seniorsThe Coastal Carolina University softball team plays its first game on campus in 21 months on Saturday evening when it hosts College of Charleston for the 2014 season opener.

First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the newly improved Coastal Carolina Softball Stadium. The Lowcountry rivals will also play a single game in Conway on Sunday at 1 p.m. Longtime Chanticleer softball coach Jess Dannelly will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Saturday’s game.

Coastal returns eight starting position players, all three pitchers and each of its six All-Big South honorees from last year’s team that went 37-22 and won the conference’s regular-season championship. Junior Kiana Quolas, the 2013 and 2014 Preseason – BSC Pitcher of the Year and two-time All-Big South first team third baseman Kory Hayden lead the way. Hayden has hit 15 home runs in each of her first two seasons and needs 15 more to break CCU’s career record.

Shortstop Jessie Winans and outfielder Beth Kassuhn – both co-captains along with Quolas and Hayden – head a six-member senior class. Joining them for their final seasons in teal and black are pitcher Ashley Bagwell (All-Big South second team in 2013) and outfielders Brooke Donovan, Courtney Howell and Desiree Zaragoza.

With outfielder Taylor Harris and infielder Kasey Oliver joining the Chanticleers as junior college transfers, 12 of the team’s 18 players are either junior or seniors.

“We’re not a young team anymore so we expect our seniors and even our juniors to really step up this year, and they’ve been showing some really nice leadership qualities,” head coach Kelley Green said. “We’ve raised the bar and we expect them to get it done. The seniors want nothing more than to win a Big South championship on our home turf in May and advance to regionals. It’s going to be up to them to lead us there.”

Catcher Morgan Noad and outfielder Bri Chiusano each earned conference All-Freshman Team honors last season. Noad tied Hayden for the team-lead and freshman single season record with 15 homers, while Chiusano led the squad with 62 hits, 47 runs and 29 stolen bases. Catcher Amanda Daneker and infielders Katie Kalasunas and Kylie Mulholland will look to make similar impacts in their freshman seasons.

“I really like the energy from the new faces and they have a very good work ethic,” Green said. “As much as we need our returners to do well and improve on their seasons from last year, we’re going to need impact from the new faces as well. That will be a huge key to the success we have this season is what kind of impact they’ll have.”

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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