Lady Chants sweep Winthrop for Big South title repeat

ccusoft-quolaspomThe Coastal Carolina softball team wrapped up its second straight Big South Conference regular-season championship in style on Saturday afternoon, rolling to a pair of dominating victories at Winthrop. The Chanticleers led throughout a 7-1 decision in the opener before using an 11-run fourth inning to rally for a 15-4 five-inning win in the nightcap.

The Chanticleers have now won eight of their last nine games to improve to 37-14 overall and 19-4 in the conference. They notched the program’s eighth regular-season conference title and clinched the top seed for the upcoming Big South Tournament, which will be held at Coastal Carolina Softball Stadium.

Coastal racked up 21 hits in the two games, including 14 in the second. Sara Rasley led the way, going 2 for 3 at the plate in each contest and totaling four RBIs and four runs scored. Rasley and Kory Hayden each hit three-run homers in the fourth-inning explosion. Maicie Hahn went 2 for 2, including a home run in the first game, and also had four RBIs along with three runs.

Kiana Quolas (23-5) scattered five hits to notch the victory in the first game, while Ashley Bagwell also held Winthrop (26-23, 12-11 BSC) to five hits in the second. The win was Bagwell’s 57th of her career, moving her into third place alone in CCU history.

In the first game, the Chants loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning and took a 1-0 lead. Bri Chiusano led off with a single to right, Quolas walked and Morgan Noad was hit by a pitch. Two batters later, Amanda Daneker sent a grounder to short for a forceout, allowing Chiusano to score.

Hahn made it 2-0 in the second, homering just to the right side of centerfield, the second of her career, both coming this week.

Coastal then broke it open with four runs in the fourth on three hits. Singles by Brooke Donovan and Rasley around a walk to Jessie Winans loaded the bases. Hahn then drew an RBI walk, Chiusano hit a two-run single to right-center and Quolas added an RBI groundout for the 6-0 advantage.

Winthrop got its only run of the game in the bottom of the fourth on a leadoff home run by Alex White. Quolas then shut the Eagles down from there, working out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth before finishing it off in the seventh. She struck out 10 and walked four.

Coastal scored its last run of the game in the sixth as Rasley hit a leadoff single, went to second on a walk by Chiusano, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Quolas’ RBI infield single to the left side. The Chants totaled seven hits against Sara Allen, who took the loss. Chiusano and Rasley each had two. Chiusano, Quolas and Hahn each drove in two runs.

In the second game, the Chanticleers totaled four hits through the first three innings, but were unable to put many together until the game-deciding fourth inning. By that point, Winthrop had built the four-run lead on White’s second home run of the day and a three-run homer by McKenzi Corn in the third inning.

However, the Eagles’ lead disappeared in a hurry once the fourth inning began and before it was over the Chants nearly batted around twice, sending 17 batters to the plate against five different Winthrop pitchers. Coastal totaled seven hits and took advantage of six walks and one Winthrop error.

Hayden got it all started with a leadoff double down the right-field line, Donovan singled and Winans hit an RBI single over the leaping second baseman to make it 4-1. Rasley then followed by drilling a bullet over the fence in left-center for the three-run homer, her fourth of the season. After a walk, an error and the first out, Noad’s RBI single to center put the Chants in front 5-4. Following the second pitching change of the inning, Daneker added an RBI single and Hayden hit her three-run homer over the left-field fence to make it 9-4. It was Hayden’s 18th of the season, putting her two away from equaling the Coastal single-season record. Five more walks came after that, plating the last two runs of the inning. The 11-run total is Coastal’s highest of the season, surpassing the 10 it scored in the first inning against Saint Peter’s en route to the 18-0 win.

CCU then capped off the onslaught with four more runs in the fifth on three more hits. Rasley had an RBI single, Hahn drew another bases-loaded walk and Quolas hit a two-run double.

In all, six different Chanticleers had two hits in the game as Quolas, Daneker, Hayden, Donovan and Winans joined Rasley, who had a career-high four RBIs. Hayden and Winans each had three runs scored. Each of Coastal’s nine starters in the lineup had at least one RBI or one run scored. Bagwell (14-8) struck out four and walked one in the circle.

Coastal will finish off regular-season play in the series finale Sunday at 1 p.m.

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