Lady Chanticleers salvage split of wild doubleheader

ccusoft-swingThe Coastal Carolina softball team split a pair of dramatic, back-and-forth games in the CCU Invitational Saturday, bouncing back from a tough 10-8 defeat to Saint Joseph’s by pulling out a 7-6 victory over Mount St. Mary’s.

Both games were decided by runs in the seventh inning, capped by the Chanticleers’ (9-8) two-run rally for their victory in a game that featured four lead changes over the final four innings.

After Mount St. Mary’s scored twice in the top of the seventh to regain a one-run lead, Coastal answered in the bottom of the frame. Amanda Daneker hit a leadoff double to left-center and pinchrunner Taylor Harris scored the tying run on a double by Morgan Noad just off the glove of a diving Mountaineer outfielder in right-center. A single to left by Devon Steiner moved Noad to third with one out and Sara Rasley followed with perfect squeeze bunt down the first-base line for the game-winner.

Rasley also homered in the game and was one of five Chants with two hits, along with Bri Chiusano, Daneker, Noad and Steiner as Coastal totaled 13 as a team, compared to six for Mount St. Mary’s. Kiana Quolas notched the victory after pitching 1.2 innings of relief.

In the contest against Saint Joseph’s, Coastal hit four home runs in a game for the second straight day, including Kory Hayden’s 52nd of her career, which tied her for second in Big South Conference history, and Bri Chiusano’s first of her collegiate career. However, a six-run seventh inning by Saint Joseph’s spoiled the fun.

Trying to rebounding, Coastal came out strong in the second game, taking a 3-0 lead after two innings. Kelsey Dominik and Steiner each had RBI singles in the first and Hayden had a run-scoring hit in the second.

Mount St. Mary’s came back with three runs on two hits and three walks in the top of the third to tie the game and took a 4-3 lead in the fourth on a walk, stolen base and a double.

Rasley quickly tied it again, leading off the bottom of the inning with her first home run of the season to left-center. Coastal then regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the sixth. After a hit batter, Kasey Oliver advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on an infield single by Chiusano. Quolas then plated the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to right.

Mount St. Mary’s, though, rallied to take the 6-5 edge in the top of the seventh on a leadoff single and a two-run homer before Coastal had the final answer.

Saint Joseph’s led Coastal 4-0 before the Chants exploded quickly for six runs with two outs and hit three home runs in four batters. Chiusano got it started by beating out a grounder to short for her second infield single of the game to keep the inning alive. Quolas hit an RBI double over the rightfielder and Hayden followed with her two-run homer to left-center to make it 4-3. After a four-pitch walk to Daneker, Noad’s fifth homer of the season over the fence in center put Coastal in the lead. Saint Joseph’s changed pitchers, but Coastal went back-to-back for the second day in a row as Dominik hit one onto the roof of the soon-to-be batting cages in center.

CCU added another run in the fourth as Maicie Hahn walked, moved to second on a sacrifice by Harris and scored on an RBI single by Quolas. Chiusano then hit a line-drive bullet over the right-field fence leading off the sixth for her home run.

After struggling early in the game, Quolas retired 10 of 11 batters entering the top of the seventh and got a flyout to start it. However, an infield single and a two-run homer made it an 8-6 game. After another infield single, a Hawks’ batter reached on a fielder’s choice and an RBI double, an intentional walk and a two-run single put Saint Joseph’s ahead before another single made it 10-8.

The Chanticleers mounted a rally of their own in the bottom of the inning and came within one amazing catch of winning it. Noad led off the inning with a single, Annie Robinson walked with one out and Steiner kept the game going with a two-out single that loaded the bases. Chiusano then worked a 3-2 count and fouled off two pitches before lacing a liner to deep left-center. However, Saint Joseph’s centerfielder Bella Picard got back to the warning track, dove head-first into the fence and made the catch to rob Chiusano of a potential bases-clearing, game-winning hit.

It would have also been a career-high fourth hit in the game for Chiusano, who settled for a 3 for 5 game with two runs scored. Quolas, Hayden and Noad each added two hits and two RBIs.

Coastal is scheduled to wrap up play in their last home tournament on Sunday with games against Loyola Chicago at 12:30 p.m. and another versus Mount St. Mary’s at 2:30 p.m.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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