Chants Take Series Finale, Increase Big South Lead
April 23, 2014
RADFORD, Va. - The Coastal Carolina softball overcame an early two-run deficit and pulled away to an 8-3 victory over Radford on Wednesday afternoon to take the key Big South Conference series.
With the win, the Chanticleers improved to 35-14 overall and 17-4 in the league, solidifying their hold on first place. Radford dropped to 20-22 overall and fell to 12-6 in the conference. Coastal now holds a two-game lead in the loss column over both Radford and Longwood.
Ashley Bagwellpitched five shutout innings in relief, while allowing just two hits to earn her 56th career victory, now tied for third all-time in program history. She struck out six and walked just one.
Kory Hayden, Bri Chiusano, and Kiana Quolas each totaled two of the Chants' nine hits. Hayden hit her 17th home run of the season, Chiusano had a two-run single, Sara Rasley a two-run double and Morgan Noadtacked on a two-run homer.
The Highlanders grabbed an early 2-0 lead on a two-run home run in the first inning by Jessie Hutchens, who followed up a hit batter with her 16th of the season.
The Chants, though, came back to score four times in the top of the second. Hayden led off with a bomb over the centerfield fence for her 47th career homer. She quickly regained the sole lead in the conference on the season after Hutchens had tied her. Jessie Winans followed with a single to left and Brooke Donovanreached on an error after a sacrifice. Rasley's sac bunt moved the runners to second and third and Chiusano delivered a two-out, two-run single to right to put Coastal ahead. After Chiusano stole her 45th base of the season Quolas brought her home with an RBI single up the middle to make it 4-2.
The Highlanders got a run back in the bottom of the inning as McKenzie Blackwell hit a leadoff home run - their fifth in the last two games on just seven hits at that point.
However, Bagwell entered in relief of Quolas to start the third and shut down the Radford offense the rest of the way. The only trouble she had was in the fifth. After a passed ball on a third strike and a single by Hutchens put runners at first and second with one out, Bagwell responded by forcing two straight popups, both caught by Winans in shallow left field, to end the threat.
Rasley then gave Coastal a 6-3 cushion with a two-run double in the sixth. Hayden hit a one-out single to center before two fielding errors by Radford loaded the bases. Rasley then ripped a line drive to the gap in left-center.
The Chants then added their finals runs in the seventh as Chiusano singled and Noad homered to center, her 13th of the season.
Rachael Walters made her third straight start in the series for Radford and took the loss after allowing four runs on four hits in 1.2 ininngs.
Coastal continues its roadtrip and concludes the regular season with a three-game weekend series at Winthrop. Saturday's doubleheader and Sunday's finale are both scheduled for 1 p.m. The Chants need one win to clinch at least a tie for their second straight regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the Big South Tournament.