Lady Chanticleers stay alive by defeating Radford, Liberty

The Coastal Carolina softball team got its second strong pitching performance of the day and Morgan Noad and Jessie Winans hit home runs in the fifth inning to lift the No. 1 seed Chanticleers over No. 6 Liberty 2-1 Friday night in another elimination game of the Big South Tournament.

Battling back from its opening-game loss, Coastal (36-21) won two games Friday to advance to Saturday’s semifinal round. Earlier Friday, Ashley Bagwell pitched a complete-game and top-seeded Coastal Carolina scored two fifth-inning runs to rally for a 3-2 victory over No. 4 seed Radford.

Coastal will face host and No. 5 seed Winthrop at 11:30 a.m. Game times for Saturday have been moved up due to a forecast for rain. The Eagles have won their first two tournament games, meaning the Chanticleers will have to beat them twice to reach Sunday’s championship game. Last year, CCU defeated host Radford twice in the semifinals to advance.

Against Liberty, Kiana Quolas went the distance and allowed just four hits, struck out four and walked none. She improved to 22-10 on the season and moved into third place on Coastal’s all-time wins list with 46. The lone blemish against her came on a two-out RBI single by Blair Lawrence in the top of the fifth. The hit followed an infield single and a sacrifice bunt.

Noad answered quickly for the Chants in the bottom of the inning, though, crushing a 2-0 pitch from Liberty starter Chandler Ball over the right-field fence for her 14th of the season. Brooke Donovan followed by singling to the left-field corner, but was called out at second trying to stretch it into a double. However, Winans still gave the Chants the lead two batters later when she hit the first pitch from Ball over the fence in a similar spot in right field. It was her seventh of the year and the 68th for CCU.

Winans then came up with a key double play in the top of the sixth. After a leadoff single, Liberty’s Sammi Shivock hit a grounder to the left side of second base and Winans came over to grab it, step on the second base bag and make the throw to first in time. Quolas then got a popout to end that frame and pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, capped when rightfielder Bri Chiusano caught a liner off the bat Kassidy McCoy.

“Kiana pitched an outstanding game and gave us exactly what we needed,” Coastal head coach Kelley Green said. “We got some real key hits from Morgan and Jessie. They made really nice adjustments at the plate and got a hold of a couple there. And I thought our defense was great. We did what we needed to do and we’ll get some much-needed rest and get back after it.”

In addition to the game-winning homer, Winans had a strong game defensively, recording five putouts and four assists. Like Liberty, Coastal had just four hits in the game – the two home runs and two singles that turned into outs at second base.

Quolas pitched around a one-out single in the first inning and a two-out error in the second and then worked perfect innings in the third and the fourth.

Coastal drew a pair of walks early, including one by Sara Rasley leading off the third. A sacrifice by Winans moved her to second, but she was stranded there. The Chants’ first hit against Ball was by Cacia Pierre in the fourth.

After an opening day win over Radford, Winthrop edged Charleston Southern 2-1 on Friday. No. 2 Campbell and No. 3 Longwood will meet in the other semifinal bracket, with Campbell needing to just win one out of a possible two to advance.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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