Record-setting CCU softball season ends in BSC semis

ccusoft-quolaspomThe second-seeded Coastal Carolina softball team fell to top-seed Longwood 5-2 Saturday in the semifinal round of the Big South Conference Tournament.

The Chanticleers finished the season at 33-24 overall, their fourth straight 30-plus win campaign and their sixth consecutive appearance in the conference tournament semifinals. Longwood (32-23) advanced to face Presbyterian in Sunday’s winner-take-all championship game.

Seniors Kory Hayden and Sara Rasley each hit home runs in their final game, making Coastal’s new Big South record for the season a total of 84. Hayden finished her career as the program’s record holder with 61 and having reached base in her last 36 games. Rasley’s homer was her 27th, tying teammate Kiana Quolas for sixth all-time at CCU. Along with Morgan Noad’s 52, the four players rank among the top seven in program history.

With Coastal trailing 3-2 and one out in the top of the sixth, the game was stopped by rain and delayed for three hours and 40 minutes. Noad was the second batter when play resumed and nearly tied the game twice. First, she sent a ball to left that drifted foul. Several pitches later, she hit one in a similar direction off the wall for a double. However, Longwood starter Libby Morris induced a groundout to end the inning.

Longwood added two runs in the bottom of the inning on an error, a walk and a two-run double by Chelsea Sciacca before finishing the game in the seventh.

The Lancers took a 2-0 lead in the first on a two-out double over the first-base bag by Carly Adams after three Lancers had walked to load the bases.

An error to the start the third opened the door for Longwood to add to the lead, but the Chanticleers responded with a couple of good defensive plays. With runners at first and third and one out, Hayden hopped on a squeeze bunt and made the quick toss to Noad at home for the second out. The Lancers followed with a single, but left-fielder Taylor Harris gunned down the runner trying to score from second.

Hayden then drilled her 13th home run of the season to left in the top of the fourth to make it a 2-1 game. Longwood got the run back in the bottom of the inning, using a leadoff walk, a bunt single and two flyouts.

Rasley quickly made it one-run game again, leading off the top of the fifth by driving one just over the left-field fence for her 11th of the year.

Quolas made her fourth straight start in the tournament, allowed four earned runs on six hits and notched the complete game, her 101st as a Chanticleer, ranking second all-time and now third alone in Big South history. She also finished her career ranked second in victories (91) both at CCU and in the conference, trailing only Michelle Hall. The righthander additionally totaled 590 strikeouts, third-most for Coastal and eighth in the Big South.

Hayden’s RBI gave her 189 for her career, second-most for the program and third for the conference. She also wraps up fifth at CCU in hits with 221, sixth in runs with 130 and first in walks with 116.

In their four seasons, Hayden, Quolas and Rasley combined to lead Coastal to 155 total victories, including a 68-24 regular-season Big South record, and three conference championships. Harris, Kasey Oliver and Maicie Hahn also concluded their careers at Coastal.

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