Lady Chants, Hayden voted Big South’s preseason best

The Coastal Carolina softball team has been picked first in the Big South Conference’s annual preseason poll and third baseman Kory Hayden was tabbed the conference’s Preseason Player of the Year, the league announced on Monday.

The defending Big South Tournament champion Chanticleers garnered seven of a possible nine first-place votes from the league’s head coaches and totaled 78 points. Charleston Southern received the other two first-place votes and was second overall with 68 points. It is the seventh time that Coastal has been picked first in the preseason poll and the first time since 2003.

“It’s nice to get the recognition, but we realize that this poll is highly based on the success we achieved last year,” Chants head coach Kelley Green said. “It’s a new season and there are a lot of games to be played. There is no sneaking up on anyone this year as we will have the target on our backs. We are looking forward to living up to our high expectations and stepping up to all the challenges that lie ahead.”

Hayden, a sophomore from West Palm Beach, Fla., was selected first team All-Big South and named the conference’s co-Freshman of the Year last season. She led the conference in six offensive categories, including totaling 15 home runs, which are second-most in Coastal single-season history. In addition, she hit .378 with 62 hits and 46 RBIs while leading the leading the league in slugging (.713), on-base percentage (.488), total bases (117), walks (37) and sacrifice flies (5). Hayden ranked second in the Big South in RBIs, fourth in average and fifth in hits. She captured five first-place votes and 10 points to beat out Gardner-Webb’s Samantha Meenaghan, who had three first-place votes and seven points.

Radford’s Jackie Jenkins was named the conference’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year. Coastal sophomore Kiana Quolas was the runner-up, earning two first-place votes. Quolas led the league with 24 wins and a 1.84 ERA last year.

Campbell placed third in the poll with 58 points, while conference newcomer Longwood was fourth with 47 and Radford, last year’s regular-season champion, took fifth with 44. Gardner-Webb (38) placed sixth, followed by Liberty (35), Winthrop (19) and Presbyterian College (18).

Coastal opens the 2013 season Friday, February 8 with games against Missouri State and Kennesaw State as part of the Georgia Tech-Kennesaw State Invitational.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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