JACKSONVILLE, FLA. -- The Coastal Carolina University softball team lost both of its games in the first day of the JU/Best Western Invitational at the JU Softball Complex, Feb. 8. The Lady Chanticleers lost to Southern Illinois 4-3 in the first game and then fell to Minnesota by the same score in eight innings.
Coastal had to rally from an early 4-0 deficit to Southern Illinois in the first game. The Lady Chants got on the scoreboard in the top of the third when sophomore Laicole Walker (Wichita, Kan./Wichita Collegiate School) scored off a two-out triple by junior Verity Long-Droppert (Claremont, Australia/Shenton (Western Australia)). Then in the sixth, freshman Ashley Pisone (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield Area) scored off a double by sophomore Alyssa Tornatore (Frederick, Md./Tuscarora) to make it a 4-2 game. Sophomore Mecaela Ballard (Groves, Texas/Port Neches Groves (Galveston JC)) came in to pinch-run for Tornatore and advanced to third off a wild pitch. An illegal pitch allowed Ballard to score and make it a one-run game. However, the Lady Chants' rally fell short as they were unable to score anymore runs.
Katie McNamara picked up the win for Southern Illinois, pitching 2.1 innings and allowing two runs off three hits. Meanwhile, Nikki Waters had the save for the Salukis,
Sophomore Ashley Frederick (Lusby, Md./Paxtuent) had the loss after pitching 6.0 innings and allowing four runs off eight hits. Frederick also struck out seven batters.
CCU and Minnesota played through four scoreless innings before the Lady Chants took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth. Senior Allison Cantrell (McDonough, Ga./Eagle's Landing) scored off an Alicia Irwin (Salina, Kan./Salina South) single, while Pisone gave CCU the 2-0 lead when she scored off a single by Ballard. The Lady Chants increased their advantage to three when Pisone scored off a single by Long-Droppert in the top of the sixth.
However, the Golden Gophers began their rally when Bethany Wolvington stole home in the bottom of the sixth. Then Minnesota pulled to within one off a run by Amber Nelson and got the game-tying score from Colleen Conway in order to push the game into extra innings. Casey Wheeler would go on to score the game winner in the bottom of the eighth.
Briana Hassett had the win for the Golden Gophers, pitching one inning and recording one strikeout.
Meanwhile, Frederick picked up the loss after pitching one inning.
On the day, Pisone totaled three runs and was the only Lady Chant to score multiple times. Long-Droppert had a team-best four hits and drove in two RBI.
CCU is back in action on Saturday, Feb. 9 for two games at the JU/Best Western Invitational. The Lady Chants play UNC Greensboro at 2:45 p.m. and then against host Jacksonville at 5 p.m. at the JU Softball Complex.