Lady Chants’ comeback bid falls short to Lady Tar Heels

ccusoft-32swingThe Coastal Carolina softball rallied from an early deficit, but host North Carolina went on to outslug the Chanticleers for a 14-6 five-inning decision Thursday afternoon.

Coastal (12-13) scored five straight runs on home runs by Annie Robinson, Kiana Quolas and Morgan Noad. However, the Tar Heels (16-5) quickly regained the lead and broke it open with a seven-run fourth for their 11th victory in their last 12 games.

The Tar Heels struck for five runs on four hits and a Coastal error in the bottom of the first inning. A leadoff walk was followed by a bunt single and an infield single and a throwing error, which plated the first run. A double steal made it 2-0 before Jenna Kelly and Kendra Lynch hit back-to-back home runs.

Coastal was able to come back with two runs in the top of the second. Kailey Mellen hit a one-out single and Robinson drove one over the right-field fence for her fourth home run of the season.

The Chants then tied it with three runs on two homers in the top of the third. Quolas homered to left, Kory Hayden singled and Noad followed with a two-run shot to center. It was her seventh of the season and 37th of her career, tying Sarah Lockett for third in program history.

However, North Carolina took advantage of questionable call on what looked like a Coastal double play in the bottom of the inning. After an error and a forceout, Hayden appeared to make a catch at third and threw to first. However, the home plate umpire ruled the ball hit the ground and the inning was extended. The Tar Heels followed with a single and RBI double to take a 6-5 lead.

UNC then totaled six hits against Quolas and reliever Mackenzie Conrad in the decisive fourth. A leadoff walk to the No. 9 hitter was followed by a double and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases. Kristen Brown then hit a grand slam to left. Conrad entered at that point, but UNC added three runs on four hits to make it 13-5.

Coastal was able to get a run in the top of the fifth as Hayden doubled and scored on two wild pitches. The Tar Heels, though, got the run back on two walks, a single and a wild pitch to end the game. The 14 runs were the most allowed by CCU since 1996.

Offensively, the Chants totaled eight hits, with Hayden and Robinson each going 2 for 3. Sydney Matzko entered in relief for North Carolina following Noad’s homer and allowed three hits the rest of the way to earn the victory.

Coastal now turns its attention to Big South Conference play as it opens up with a three-game series at Longwood on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Chants then return home to host Campbell on March 21 and 22.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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