Chants Down Winthrop To Advance to Semifinals
May 9, 2014
CONWAY - The Coastal Carolina softball team put itself in a strong position in the Big South Championship on Friday afternoon, leading No. 5 seed Winthrop from start to finish in a 7-3 victory at Coastal Carolina Softball Stadium.
The top-seeded Chanticleers (40-14) advanced to the Saturday's semifinals, where they will face an opponent to be determined. Coastal will need just one victory in a potential two games on Saturday to advance to the championship game. CCU's opponent on Saturday will either by Campbell, Presbyterian or Charleston Southern, depending on the outcome of Friday night's late games.
Coastal reached the 40-win mark for the second time in three seasons and the fourth time in program history.
Amanda Daneker hit a three-run home run in the first inning, Sara Rasley added a solo shot late and Kiana Quolas battled for the victory in the circle. Quolas allowed two earned runs on five hits, struck out six and walked one, while dealing with five Chant errors, improving to 26-5 on the year.
Bri Chiusano went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and her 48th stolen base of the season, while Quolas and Hayden added RBIs. Chiusano now has 77 career steals and is tied for second all-time in program history with Michelle Minton.
Daneker gave the Chants a quick 3-0 lead with her seventh homer of the season. Chiusano led off with a bunt single and Quolas walked before Daneker hit a pitch from Winthrop starter Sutton Watson over the fence in left. Coastal threatened for more as Hayden singled and Rasley walked with two outs. The Eagles then brought in Dallas King in relief and she got an inning-ending forceout.
Winthrop tried get on the board in the top of the third, but was prevented by the defense of centerfielder Brooke Donovan. After a one-out walk, Naomi Steven singled to left center, but Donovan was able to cut the ball off before it could roll to the fence. Following a fielder's choice for the second out, a hit batter loaded the bases. Winthrop cleanup hitter Mel Andrea then lined one to deep center and Donovan backtracked and made a leaping grab to save at least two runs and end the inning.
The Eagles did get on the board in the top of the fourth by taking advantage of two Chanticleer errors. Alex White reached on an error leading off the inning, and with two outs, Coastal shortstop Jessie Winans and left-fielder Beth Kassuhn collided going for a popup in shallow left. The ball fell out of Kassuhn's glove, enabling the Winthrop runner to score from second make it 3-1.
In the fifth, the Eagles got a leadoff single, but Coastal erased her by turning a 1-6-3 double play. A fielding error after that kept the inning alive, but Quolas then struck out Andrea to end it.
The Chanticleers then scored three times in the bottom of the inning to make it a 6-1 advantage. Chiusano led off by doubling over the right-fielder, stole third and scored on Quolas' single to center. Morgan Noad and Daneker then both reached on consecutive Winthrop errors off of sacrifice bunts, the second one scoring pinchrunner Courtney Howell. After Watson re-entered in the circle, Hayden hit a sacrifice fly to center, plating Noad.
Winthrop's Kelsey Ritter homered in the top of the sixth, but Quolas limited the damage after a hit batter and error, getting a forceout and a lineout to Chiusano in right to end the inning.
Rasley answered with her fifth home run of the season leading off the bottom of the inning to make it 7-2, before the Eagles' McKenzi Corned capped the scoring with a home run with one out in the seventh. Quolas closed out the game with back-to-back strikeouts. Winthrop put runners on base in every inning against Quolas, but the right-hander stranded eight Eagles, including five in scoring position.
Watson took the loss for Winthrop, allowing four runs on four hits in 2.2 innings over her two stints.