Lady Chants, Quolas picked to repeat Big South honors

ccusoft-quolaspomFor the third straight year and the ninth time overall, the Coastal Carolina softball team has been selected first in the Big South Conference’s annual preseason poll, while Kiana Quolas repeated as Preseason Pitcher of the Year, the league announced on Wednesday.

The two-time defending regular-season champion Chanticleers, who went 20-4 in league play last year, claimed five of the nine first-place votes from the conference’s head coaches, along with four second-place votes for 77 total points.

Longwood was second in the poll with two first-place votes and 71 points. Campbell and Charleston Southern each garnered one first-place vote, with the Camels taking third with 57 points and the defending tournament champion Buccaneers placing fourth with 51 points. Winthrop came in fifth with 48 points, and Radford was sixth with 36 points. Presbyterian College took seventh with 28 points, followed by Liberty (23) and Gardner-Webb (14).

Quolas, the two-time unanimous Pitcher of the Year in the conference and a two-time NFCA All-Region selection, claimed all eight votes for her second preseason honor. The senior righthander went 27-5 last season and ranked ninth in the nation with a 1.29 ERA. She also led the Big South in strikeouts, shutouts, opponent batting average, complete games and innings pitched, and will enter the season already ranked second in CCU history in wins (73) and third in strikeouts (498).

Longwood catcher Megan Baltzell received seven first-place votes to repeat as Preseason Player of the Year after also taking the conference’s Player of the Year honor following last season. Coastal third baseman and three-time all-conference first team pick Kory Hayden, the program’s all-time home run leader, earned the other first-place vote.

Nine Chanticleers return from the 2014 squad, including six of its seven 2014 all-conference honorees – first-team members Quolas, Hayden, Bri Chiusano and Morgan Noad and second-team selections Sara Rasley and Amanda Daneker. Six seniors are among the returnee group, which is joined by eight newcomers – transfers Kelsey Dominik, Cassidy Brzozowski and Mackenzie Conrad and five freshmen.

“We certainly have some talented returners and rookies, but it will be our ability to stay mentally tough and get strong leadership that will determine our level of success this season,” head coach Kelley Green said.

The Chants open the 2015 campaign at home on Friday, Feb. 6 with games against Maryland and Lafayette as part of the Kickin’ Chicken Classic.

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