The Coastal Carolina softball team opens the 2006 season as it hosts the CCU Tournament in Conway, S.C. at CCU Softball Field. Coastal takes the field for the first time against #3 Tennessee on Friday, February 10 at 4:30 p.m. The Lady Chanticleers will also play the night cap as they take on Illinois State at 7 p.m. The two-day tournament concludes Saturday, February 11 as the Chants play the first game of the day in rematch with Tennessee at 11 a.m. Coastal comes back later in the afternoon to conclude the tournament with a match up against Illinois State at 4 p.m.
Complete CCU Tournament Schedule:
Friday, Feb. 10
2 p.m.- Illinois State vs. Tennessee
4:30 p.m.- Tennessee vs. Coastal
7:00 p.m. - Illinois State vs. Coastal
Saturday, Feb. 11
11 a.m. - Tennessee vs. Coastal
1:30 p.m. - Tennessee vs. Illinois State
4 p.m. - Illinois State vs. Coastal
Scouting # 3 Tennessee:
Tennessee (67-15 in 2004) is one of the elite programs in college softball. The Lady Vols are coming off a season where they advanced all the way to the Womens College World Series and fell to eventual champion Michigan to finish third nationally. Building off that momentum, Tennessee is ranked third nationally in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association preseason poll. Leading the Lady Vols will be their star pitcher from a year ago junior Monica Abbott. Abbott was 50-9 last year with a miniscule earned-run average of 0.52. Abbott threw 47 complete games with 34 shutouts and 603 strikeouts last year, so hitting will be at a preminum against Abbott and the Lady Vols. Tennessee also features a talented lineup that returns its top three hitters from a year ago in seniors Kristi Durant and Sarah Fekete and junior Lindsay Schutzler. The combined team batting average for the Lady Vols last season was .312.
Series vs. Tennessee:
The Lady Vols lead the all-time series with Coastal at 2-0. The last meeting between these two teams was in 2000 as UT prevailed 2-0.
Scouting Illinois State:
The Redbirds (31-21 in 2004) bring back most of their pitching rotation from last season. The duo of juniors Shannon Nicholson and Stacy Birk split time in the circle for Illinois State in 2005. Nicholson won 15 games with a 1.53 earned-run average last year, while Birk won 16 times with a 2.13 ERA. The top returning hitter for the Redbirds is senior Randi Patton. Patton hit .304 with five homeruns and 21 RBIs a year ago.
Series vs. Illinois State:
This is the first ever meeting between CCU and Illinois State, although the Lady Chants are 2-4 lifetime against teams from the Missouri Valley Conference.
Opening Day for CCU:
CCU has a lifetime record of 12-24 on games on the first day of the season dating back to 1984. Last season, Coastal dropped the first game of the Gamecock Invitational to host South Carolina 8-2 only to rally and win the second game of the day over UNC Greensboro 3-2 in eight innings. Leading the Chanticleers on the day was senior pitcher Brittany Nelson who was 2-for-4 at the plate with one RBI and pitched a complete game with eigth strikeouts in the second game.
We Like Opening Day:
Coastal Carolinas senior Brittany Nelson excels both at the plate and in the circle on the first day of the season.Nelson has a career average of .555 (5-for-9) with two RBIs on the first day of the season. Nelson also thrives from the mound as she has a lifetime record of 2-1 with a career earned-run average of 1.66 at the start of the spring.
Senior Sara Hostetler also has been outstanding on opening day. She has six career hits with two doubles and a .352 batting average in the first two games of the season in her career.
The Great Unknown:
Last season, junior Kimberly Cillis feasted on non-conference opponents. Cillis led the team with a .327 batting average in non-conference matchups. Redshirt junior pitcher Christine Doyle also has done well for herself against non-conference opponents in her career. She has a career record of 20-11 and an ERA of 1.63 against teams out of conference.
Against the Southeast Conference:
Several current softball players have had success against the Southeast Conference in their careers. Leading the hitters is senior Katey Allen, who has a career .285 batting average after going 5-for-14 last season against Florida and South Carolina.
From the circle, senior Brittany Nelson has a record of 2-1, a 2.18 era and 10 strikeouts against the SEC in her career.
Right at Home
Seniors Kelly Feely and Sara Hostetler feed off the familar surroundings of home. Feely has a career average of .333 at home with five home runs and 19 RBIs. Hostetler has a scalding career average of .363 with four home runs and 28 RBIs at the friendly confines of CCU Softball Field.
Coastal Picked Second in Big South:
Coastal Carolinas softball team, led by head coach Jess Dannelly has been picked for second place in the 2006 Big South Conferences softball preseason poll as voted by the Leagues head softball coaches and sports information directors, the league office announced, Jan. 24.
The preseason favorite this season is Winthrop, who garnered seven first place votes and 84 points overall to narrowly finish ahead of the Lady Chanticleers, who received three first place votes and 81 points overall. Winthrop was the conferences regular season champion and were the runner-up in the Big South Tournament last season. Radford received four first place votes and 76 points to finish a close third. The top three were followed by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (46 points), Birmingham-Southern (45 points), Liberty (44 points), and Charleston Southern (16 points).
Libertys junior shortstop Jessica Moore, who was the 2005 Big South Softball Player of the Year, was voted as the Conferences Preseason Player of the Year. Moore received six first place votes and 19 points overall to finish ahead of Coastal Carolinas senior pitcher/designated player Meagen Johnson, who had two first place votes and six points overall.
Head Coach Jess Dannelly: Coastal Carolina head coach Jess Dannelly (South Carolina 80) is in his 19th season as the mentor of the Chanticleers. He has a career record of 574-410. Coach Dannelly won his 550th career softball game May 14, 2004 and is 30th among active softball coaches in victories and 61st in winning percentage.
Coastal Carolinas softball team returns 15 letterwinners from last years team including its entire pitching rotation from a year ago. The returning rotation is seniors Christine Doyle, Meagen Johnson and Brittany Nelson and juniors Christine Doyle, Danyelle Gerdts and Trish Kretchman.
Also returning to the senior-laden squad: are seniors Sara Hostetler, Lynee Hastings, Kelly Feely, Irene Finley, Katey Allen, juniors Kristina Sheppard, Kimberly Cillis, Carla Hood and sophomores Allison Cantrell and Ashley Gerdts.
Newcomers Dot Coastals Roster:
Coastal rosters also has something new as seven new players have joined the squad this season. Redshirt junior Glynn Tolleson and redshirt sophomore Erika Trujillo are both eligible to play after sitting out last season. Joining the team this season are freshman Kelsey Riffel, Brittany Birnbaum, Whitney Gibson, Candra Witt and Tara Albohn.
Three Named to All-Big South Team:
Seniors Sara Hostetler and Meagen Johnson were named Big South First Team All-Conference while junior Kimberly Cillis was named Second Team the league office announced May 13, 2005. It was the second time that Hostetler was named to the first team, while Johnson and Cillis each were first-time members of the All-Big South squads.
Milestones on the Horizon:
Coastal Carolina softball team comes into the 2006 season with several career milestones in reach.
Senior Kelly Feely has 12 career home runs and is only one home run behind former Lady Chant Cari Rowe for seventh place.
Senior Sara Hostetler has 26 doubles and is one behind former Lady Chants Jill Friedman and Beth Park for eighth place.
Senior Katey Allen with 20 career stolen bases only needs one to reach ninth place and former Lady Chant Kacee Crumpacker.
Senior pitcher Brittany Nelson has 76 appearances and only trails fifth place, former Lady Chant Stephanie Belden, by 16 appearances.
Nelson with 35 complete games trails sixth place by seven. Her 33 victories trails sixth place by four. Belden currently is ranked ahead of Nelson is both categories.
Nelson is also among the leaders in innings pitched as she is 44.2 innings from moving into sixth place all-time in innings pitched at currently held by former Lady Chant Tracey Russ.
Coastal Carolina travels to the Triangle Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Chants will take on Minnesota on Feb. 17 at 2:30 p.m., North Carolina on Feb. 17 at 5:30 p.m., Toledo on Feb. 18 at 12:15 p.m. before starting bracket round play later that afternoon with the championship game to follow on Feb. 19.