Lady Chants cap season with historic sweep of Liberty

The Coastal Carolina softball team capped off its regular season in style Saturday afternoon, completing a three-game sweep of Liberty with 9-5 victory on the Flames’ Senior Day.

The Chanticleers swept Liberty in a three-game series for the first time in program history and finished the 2013 regular season 34-20 and 19-5 in Big South Conference play.

Coastal will finish no worse than second place in the conference and can claim at least a share of the regular-season championship and the top seed for the Big South Tournament if Campbell loses one of its las three league games next weekend against Longwood.

The Chants added three more home runs Saturday, accounting for eight of their nine runs, and upped their record season total to 66. Morgan Noad hit her fourth grand slam of the year, Brooke Donovan hit a tie-breaking three run shot and Kory Hayden added her 15th off the season.

Kiana Quolas pitched 5 1-3 innings in relief to earn the victory. She allowed just four hits and no earned runs. She also extended her hitting streak to 10 games, while Donovan went 3-for-3.

Coastal jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning as five of the first six hitters reached against Liberty starter Chandler Ball. Bri Chiusano drew a leadoff walk, Quolas singled to left and both moved up on a base on a double steal. Chiusano then scored when the third baseman bobbled a grounder off the bat of Hayden, sliding in just ahead of the tag. A walk to Cacia Pierre loaded the bases and, two batters later, Noad drove a 3-1 pitch over the fence in left-center for her 13th home run.

Liberty answered with a five-run inning of its own to tie in the second. Kelby Allen led off with her ninth home run of the year to get the Flames on the board. A hit batter, a walk and a single loaded the bases and another walk made it 5-2. Quolas then came on in relief of Ashley Bagwell, but Sammi Shivock, the Flames’ RBI leader, cleared the bases with a double to left-center.

However, the Chanticleers quickly regained the lead in the third on Donovan’s three-run homer. Pierre led off with a long single off the fence in center. Jazmin Daigle then laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached on an error. Noad followed by popping up to the catcher, who dropped the ball. Umpires called an infield fly, but both runners were able to move up to second and third. Donovan made the runners advancing a moot point when she hit the next pitch from Flames reliever Annah Jo Brittingham over the fence in right-center to make it 8-5, her third home run of the year.

Jessie Winans made a diving catch in shallow left field to start the bottom of the fifth. It became a big play when Liberty followed with a double and a single. Quolas (21-9) was then able to pitch out of the jam with a strikeout and a groundout. She retired the final six batters in the last two innings to close it out. She struck out three and walked none. The win was the 45th of her career and tied Christine Doyle for fifth on CCU’s all-time list.

Hayden matched her home run total from last season with a solo shot to left leading off the seventh.

Coastal will now have 11 full days off before the Big South Tournament begins on Thursday, May 9 in Rock Hill.

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