Lady Chants top Winthrop to reach Big South semis

ccusoft-31Amanda Daneker put the Chanticleers ahead early with a three-run home run in the top of the first and Kiana Quolas hurled her second complete game of the tournament as No. 1 Coastal Carolina punched their ticket to Saturday afternoon with a 7-3 win over No. 5 Winthrop at the 2014 Big South Conference Championships in Conway.

Daneker opened up the contest with a bang for the top-seed Chants, connecting on a three-run blast over the fence in left centerfield, scoring Bri Chiusano and Kiana Quolas to pace Coastal to the early lead. Sara Rasley added a solo home run late in support of Quolas’ effort inside the circle.

Coastal Carolina advances to Saturday afternoon action against an opponent yet to be determined. First pitch for the game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Winthrop falls into the loser’s bracket and will take on No. 2 Longwood in an elimination game this evening with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.

Quolas (26-5), the Big South Pitcher of the Year, went the distance in the contest in scattering five hits, while striking out six in the contest. She added an RBI single in the game from the plate as well and overcame several tough situations as the Coastal Carolina defense committed a season-high five errors in the contest.

Sutton Watson (9-8) suffered the loss for Winthrop on the afternoon, going 2.2 innings inside the circle in allowing four hits and four runs. Dallas King pitched 3.1 innings in relief for the Eagles, allowing three hits and three runs (one earned) on the afternoon.

Daneker paced the Chants to the early lead in the top of the first, following a strikeout with her seventh home run of the season, connecting on the 2-1 offering from Watson scoring Chiusano and Quolas on the play. Singles by Kory Hayden and Sara Rasley chased Watson from the game, but reliever King limited the damage in getting Maicie Hahn to groundout to end the inning.

Two outstanding catches by Brooke Donovan in the top of the third inning kept the Eagles off the scoreboard and keep the 3-0 Chanticleers lead intact. A line drive by Paige Haley to lead off the inning settled in Donovan’s glove for the first out. Later in the frame after Winthrop loaded the bases as Dallas King drew a walk, Naomi Stevens singles and McKenzi Corn was hit by a pitch, Mel Andrea drilled a long line drive to straightaway centerfield. Donovan took two steps back on the play before leaping up and snagging the line drive just in front of the warning track to end the threat in support of Coastal Carolina starter Kiana Quolas.

Two Coastal Carolina errors brought the first Winthrop run of the game across the plate. Alex White led off the inning reaching on an error by Jessie Winans. With Paige Hartfield in to run at first, she advanced around the bases on back-to-back groundouts to reach third with two outs. A soft popup to left field off of Haley’s bat fell to the ground following a collision between the CCU left fielder and shortstop, allowing Hartfield to score, cutting the deficit down to 3-1.

Sparked by a leadoff Chiusano double in the bottom of the fifth, Coastal Carolina pushed across three more runs in the frame to build a 6-1 advantage. Chiusano followed up her double in stealing third before Quolas connected on an RBI single to centerfield for first run of the inning. With Courtney Howell in to run at first, back-to-back Winthrop errors brought her around the base paths as Morgan Noad reached on an error on her sacrifice bunt attempt, while Daneker reached on a throwing error by King to bring across Howell. Kory Hayden followed with a sacrifice fly to centerfield scoring Noad to stretch the Chants advantage to five runs.

Winthrop and Coastal Carolina traded solo home runs in the sixth inning with Kelsey Ritter going deep with one out in the top of the inning for the Eagles, driving the ball over the left field fence. Rasley answered in the leadoff spot for the Bucs in the bottom half of the frame, driving the first pitch from Watson over the left field fence to put the score at 7-2 in favor of Coastal.

In their final at-bats, Corn connected on a one-out solo home run to left centerfield to provide one last gasp for Winthrop, but Quolas retired the final two batters on strikeouts to end the game as Coastal advances to Saturday afternoon action at the CCU Softball Field.

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