Lady Chants open softball season with twinbill split

In two very different games, the Coastal Carolina softball team started the 2013 season with mixed results Friday at the Georgia Tech-Kennesaw State Invitational. The Chanticleers notched a 10-6 comeback win over Missouri State in their first game before falling to Kennesaw 1-0 in eight innings.

Coastal earned a victory in its season-opener for the fourth straight year by rallying from a 6-4 deficit with six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sophomore Kory Hayden capped the comeback with an eventual game-winning grand slam homer. It was her first collegiate grand slam as she tied her career-high RBI total in a game with one swing.

Senior Cacia Pierre started the sixth with a leadoff walk, senior Jazmin Daigle singled and sophomore Sara Rasley walked to load the bases with one out. Junior Jessie Winans then singled home pinchrunner Nicole Saggiomo and freshman Bri Chiusano followed with an RBI single to center to tie the game at 6-6.  Junior Brooke Donovan was then hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Hayden. The Big South Conference’s Preseason Player of the Year hammered a 1-0 pitch well over the left-field fence for the 16th homer of her career.

The Chanticleers did the rest of their scoring in the second inning, putting four runs across, capped by a three-run homer by Winans. Sophomore Kiana Quolas led off the frame with a single, advanced to second on a groundout and moved up to third on a single by Daigle. Freshman Morgan Noad then singled to right to score Quolas and notch her first collegiate RBI. Two batters later, Winans drove one over the fence in right-center to make it 4-0.

Junior pitcher Ashley Bagwell held Missouri State hitless for four innings before the Bears struck in the fifth for three runs on four hits while taking advantage of two Coastal errors.

Missouri State then scored three more times in the top of the sixth on two hits and another error, taking its first lead of the game on a two-run single by designated player Mary Stephens with two outs. The Bears could have added more, but Donovan made a diving, over-the-shoulder catch in deep center to save a run and end the inning.

Coastal finished the game with nine hits, led by a 3-for-3 performance by Daigle. Winans tied her career highs with two hits, four RBIs and two runs scored.

Bagwell pitched all seven innings to get the victory. She allowed four earned runs on seven hits, struck out seven and walked six.

Runs were much harder to come by in the game with Kennesaw. Quolas and Kennesaw pitcher Amanda Henderson combined to limit the offenses to nine total hits. Kennesaw needed the international tiebreaker in the eighth to the push across the game-winner. After a wild pitch moved runner Sarah Sikes from second to third, she scored just ahead of the tag on a sacrifice fly to left field.

Coastal had chances to score early in the game, but left eight runners on base through the first four innings. In their half of the eighth, the Chants moved runner Hayden to third with one out, but Henderson got a popout and a groundout to end the inning.

Quolas went the distance allowing just four hits and striking out 10, while walking just one. Chiusano went 3 for 4 at the plate with a stolen base, while Hayden had a double.

Coastal resumes play in the tournament Saturday at 2 p.m. when it faces Georgia Tech. The Chants then take on Missouri State again at 4 p.m.

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