Lady Chanticleers, Quolas picked to rule conference

ccusoft-quolaspomThe Coastal Carolina softball team has been picked as the favorite in the Big South Conference’s annual preseason poll for the second straight year, and junior Kiana Quolas was named the conference’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

The Chanticleers, who were picked first in the preseason last year and went on to win the regular-season championship with a 19-5 league record, garnered four of a possible nine first-place votes from the league’s head coaches and totaled 74 points. Campbell placed second with 68 points and one first-place vote, while Longwood was right behind with 67 points, but received three first place votes. It is the eighth time that Coastal has been picked first in the preseason poll.

“We certainly appreciate the recognition from our peer institutions,” head coach Kelley Green said. “Our student-athletes and coaches now have to earn it on the field. Our conference is going to be even stronger this year from top to bottom and we have to be at our best for every pitch in order to achieve our goals.”

Quolas was the conference’s Pitcher of the Year in 2013 after leading the league in every major statistical category. She posted a 22-10 record with a 1.94 ERA and 151 strikeouts (tied with teammate Ashley Bagwell) and just 40 walks over 206 innings, while limiting opponents to a .228 batting average.

The two-time All-Big South first team selection also was named NFCA All-Southeast Region second team last season and already ranks tied for third on CCU’s all-time victories list with 46. Quolas received six of the nine first-place votes. Campbell’s Courtney Roberts was runner-up and had one first-place vote.

Longwood’s Megan Baltzell, who hit a league-high 30 home runs last season, was tabbed the conference’s Preseason Player of the Year.

Winthrop ranked fourth in the poll with 46 points, while Charleston Southern, which received the other first-place vote, was fifth with 43 points and Radford took sixth with 41. Liberty (30) was seventh, followed by Gardner-Webb (21) and Presbyterian College (15).

Coastal opens the 2014 season Saturday at home against College of Charleston at 5 p.m.

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