CONWAY - Led by a three-hit, three-RBI performance from Sara Rasley and another complete-game pitching effort by Kiana Quolas, the Coastal Carolina softball team rallied for a 5-3 victory over Campbell Saturday afternoon to advance to the title game of the Big South Championship.
The top-seeded Chanticleers (41-14) will face No. 7 seed Charleston Southern Sunday at noon at Coastal Carolina Softball Stadium, looking for their record seventh tournament crown and return trip to the NCAA Regionals. The game will be shown live on ESPNU. Like Coastal, Charleston Southern (26-31-1) won its third tourney game in a row on Saturday, eliminating No. 2 seed Longwood 7-2.
Rasley went 3 for 3 at the plate, including a two-run double that capped a three-run fifth inning and gave the Chants a 4-2 lead. Morgan Noad added two hits and two runs scored, including a solo home run in the sixth inning, her second of the tournament.
Quolas (27-5) notched the victory for the third straight tourney game, once again battling with runners on base in five of the seven innings. She allowed three earned runs on eight hits, struck out six and walked one.
Four Campbell batters reached in the first two innings on three hits and a hit batter, but Coastal's defense turned double plays in each frame to dodge the threats. The first one came with on a grounder to Kory Hayden at third with runners at first and second and Quolas started a 1-6-3 play in the second inning.
The Chanticleers then took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second on back-to-back two-out hits off of Campbell starter Katie Baker. Brooke Donovan hit one to the gap in right-center that rolled to the fence for a double and Rasley followed with an RBI single to right-center that dropped just in front of the rightfielder.
Coastal had a chance to add to the lead in the third as Jessie Winans reached on an error and Noad drew a two-out walk, but the Fighting Camels got a forceout to end the frame.
Campbell slugger Milly Martinet then gave the Camels a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth with a two-run homer. Courtney Klinger hit a leadoff single and Martinet followed with her 17th homer of the season over the centerfield fence.
The Chants tried to mount a two-out rally in the bottom of the inning as Rasley and Maicie Hahn both singled, with Rasley moving to third on a fielding error. However, Baker got out of it with a strikeout.
The Chants, though, used two hits and capitalized on two Campbell errors to take the two-run lead in the fifth. Bri Chiusano drew a leadoff walk and Quolas reached on a fielding error as the Camels tried for the forceout at second. Noad then dropped a single into shallow left-center to load the bases and, two batters later, Hayden hit a sacrifice fly to right, plating pinch-runner Taylor Harrisw ith the tying run. A fielding error by the Campbell shortstop then reloaded the bases for Rasley, who ripped one down the left-field line to put Coastal in the lead for good.
The Fighting Camels did get a run back in the top of the sixth on a bloop double to left by Klinger and an RBI single by Martinet. However, Noad pushed the lead back to two with a blast over the right-field fence into the parking lot with two outs in the bottom of the inning. It was her 15th homer of the season, matching her total from last year.
Campbell threatened in the seventh, getting a leadoff walk and a two-out single, but Winans made a nice play to field a groundball to her right and threw over to Hayden at third for the game-ending forceout.
Coastal advanced to its second Big South championship game in three years. CCU also met Charleston Southern in that one, winning 4-1. The Chants took all three meetings against the Buccaneers this season, but two of the contests were 2-1 and 3-0 decisions and the third was a tie game in the fifth inning before Coastal pulled away 7-2.