Coastal Set To Host Kickin' Chicken Classic

       

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Feb. 8, 2018

CONWAY - The Coastal Carolina Chanticleer softball team begins their 2018 season tomorrow as they host the first of three weekend tournaments starting with the annual Kickin' Chicken Classic at CCU Softball Stadium. This year's field includes Iowa State out of the Big 12, the SoCon's UNC Greensboro Spartans, Presbyterian Blue Hose out of the Big South and the #20 ranked team in the NFCA preseason poll, the NEC's Saint Francis Red Flash.

Coastal Carolina

Coastal comes into this year after completing a 32-23 record with a 10-16 record in the Sun Belt Conference in 2017. Last Friday, the Chants were voted by the coaches to tie for seventh in the conference. CCU returns 13 players from a season ago and are led by redshirt senior Amanda Daneker, and seniors Timi Tooley and Kailey Mellen, and junior pitcher Ashley Guillette.

In 2017, Tooley was the defensive leader in the outfield as she started all 55 games in centerfield while having an outfield-high five assists. At the plate, the senior tied for second on the team with 10 doubles. Mellen played in all 55 games and saw time at three different positions. The majority of her playing time came as the designated player where she saw action in 32 games. The Arizona native hit .319 and had 12 doubles, which were good for second on the Chanticleers club.

After returning from a 2016 injury, Daneker came back last season but again was limited to 40 games due to injury. The Pennsylvania native was able to hit .265, highlighted by seven multi-hit games, including a three out of five game stretch which saw her have at least two hits. The redshirt senior is looking to return to her 2014 and 2015 form as she was named to the Big South All-Freshman Team and to the conference's second team both years. In 2014, Daneker hit .304 and hit seven round-trippers. 2015 was even better as the then-sophomore had a career-high .340 batting average, seven doubles, and six home runs.

Guillette is the lone Chanticleer pitcher to return from last season's squad as she ended up with a team-high 13 wins and staff-best 2.48 ERA which was 7th best in the Sun Belt. She also led the conference with four saves and allowed opponents to hit a paltry .191 while striking out 182 (3rd best in the Sun Belt, 17th highest in the nation per/7 IP) in 149.2 innings.

Saint Francis

Saint Francis went 49-11 a season ago as they went 16-0 in the NEC and were able to pick up their school's first conference championship in history. The Red Flash also made another piece of history as they were able to pick up the school's first ever NCAA tournament victory in any sport as they defeated New Mexico State, 8-4.

Along with Head Coach Jennifer Patrick-Swift, the Saint Francis staff was named the NEC Coaching Staff of the Year and the team had nine players nominated to the All-NEC Team, the most since Central Connecticut State in 2013.

UNCG

In 2017, the UNCG Spartans tied for first in the SoCon as they went 29-24 with an 11-6 record in conference en route to winning their first conference tournament in school history.

This season the Spartans return 13 letter winners and are tabbed to finish 2nd in the SoCon preseason poll. Included are Marissa Sholtes, Gabrielle Cubbage, Alicia Bazonski and Jazmine Palmer. Palmer played a big part in UNCG's season from a year ago as she was also selected to the NFCA Midwest-All Region Team.

Iowa State

Iowa State comes in the season picked as the sixth team of a seven-team Big 12 conference. In 2017, the Cyclones finished fifth with a record of 25-35 with a 6-12 conference record and were knocked out early in the Big 12 tournament.

ISU returns 13 players from a year ago as Sami Williams and Kelsey McFarland lead the team as they were both nominated to the NFCA All-Midwest Region First Team, as it was the first time in school history that two Cyclones were selected to the first team in the same year.

Williams became the first Cyclone in 15 seasons to be nominated to both the All-Big 12 First Team and All-Freshman team as she was tied for third in the nation with 20 doubles while breaking the Iowa State single-season school record.

Presbyterian

Presbyterian finished the Big South 2017 season with a record of 18-32 and 7-14 in the conference. The Blue Hose return ten players from last season are led by returners Hope Rodgers, Megan Anderson, and Jonnie Petree.

Offensively, as a team PC was second in the Big South with seven triples, just four shy of the conference leader. Rodgers hit .325 and averaged a hit per game while ranking in the top 20 in batting average in the conference. Petree batted .293 and Anderson hit .278.

In the circle, the Blue Hose staff picked up a league-leading six saves and Alex Cook led all pitchers in the Big South with five.

Coastal's first pitch versus Iowa State is scheduled for 5 p.m., so follow all of the action here up-to-date tournament coverage and checking out goCCUsports.com/sports/w-softbl.

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