Lady Chants upset in opener, must win out to defend title

The Coastal Carolina softball team won last year’s Big South Conference Tournament after suffering an early setback. If the Chanticleers are going to repeat, they will have to do so again.

The top-seeded Chants suffered a 2-0 loss to ninth-seeded Charleston Southern in their opening tournament game on Thursday afternoon. Coastal (34-21) will now have to win five straight games to earn the 2013 title, beginning with an elimination contest against No. 4 seed Radford Friday at 9 a.m.

Charleston Southern, which beat Presbyterian 7-2 earlier Thursday, scored the game’s only two runs in the top of the sixth inning and got a second straight strong performance from pitcher Jennifer Giles to record the upset win. Giles limited Coastal to just five hits and struck out eight to notch her second shutout of the season.

Kiana Quolas (21-10) pitched well, but lost for the first time in eight appearances, allowing seven hits, striking out four and walking three.

Quolas survived an early threat in the first when centerfielder Brooke Donovan ended the inning by throwing a runner out at home following a single. The Big South Pitcher of the Year then found her rhythm and retired 12 straight Charleston Southern batters heading into the sixth.

Ari Tedesco, the Buccaneers’ No. 9 hitter, ended the streak with a leadoff single to right and All-Big South selection Marci Christian followed with a bloop single to left. After a popout, a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third and Coastal walked Buccaneers’ slugger Jana Matthews – who had homered twice in the Bucs’ win over Presbyterian – intentionally to load the bases. Quolas followed by getting a grounder to short and Jessie Winans came home to get the forceout for the second out. However, a walk on a 3-2 pitch brought home the first run of the game and Hannah Wagner added an RBI single to center.

Giles then made the runs stand up, working around a single by Morgan Noad in the sixth before pitching a 1-2-3 seventh.

Coastal had its chances to score earlier in the game, though. In the second, Jazmin Daigle walked and moved to second on a sacrifice by Noad. Donovan singled to put runners at second and third with two outs. Jessie Winans then hit a bullet liner, but it was right at the rightfielder for the third out.

The Chants then loaded the bases in the fourth. Cacia Pierre was hit by a pitch and sacrifice by Daigle moved pinchrunner Sara Rasley to second. Noad then singled and stole second. After a strikeout, Donovan walked to load the bases. Giles, though, struck out Winans with a 3-2 change-up to escape the threat.

In the fifth, Bri Chiusano led off with a bunt single and stole second with one out – her 26th steal of the season. However, Giles got a flyout and a foulout end that inning.

The Chanticleers left eight runners on base in the game, including six in scoring position as Giles was able to use her change-up to get crucial outs. Giles came into the game off a career-high 11 strikeout performance in the morning against PC.

Noad went 2-for-3 for Coastal, while Quolas had a single to extend her hitting streak to 11 games. Tedesco and Christian each had two hits for Charleston Southern, which won its fourth straight game and posted the first shutout of CCU by a Big South team this season.

Radford fell to No. 5 Winthrop 4-1 in its game on Thursday. The winner of Friday morning’s matchup will then play again Friday at 9:30 p.m. Coastal lost its second game of the tournament last season before winning four straight.

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