The Coastal Carolina softball team (0-3) begins its first road trip of the season this weekend as it heads to Chapel Hill, N.C., to participate in the Triangle Classic against Minnesota (0-4) Feb. 17 at 2:30 p.m., North Carolina (4-1) Feb. 17 at 5:30 p.m. and Toledo (0-0) Feb. 18 at 12:15 p.m. Bracket play begins bracket that afternoon with a championship game to follow the next day.
Triangle Classic Schedule:
Friday, Feb. 17
2:30 p.m.- Minnesota vs. Coastal Carolina
5:30 p.m.- Coastal Carolina at North Carolina
Saturday, Feb. 18
12 p.m. - Toledo vs. Coastal Carolina
TBA - Bracket Play
Sunday, Feb. 19
TBA- Gold & Silver Flight Championship
Minnesota played four games to open the weekend in the Auburn Tournament. The Golden Gophers dropped all four games by a combined score of 23-4. Offensively for the Gophers junior catcher Megan Higginbotham has been the star as she is hitting .400 with four hits, two runs scored and an RBI through the first four games. Junior pitcher Mandy Valdez has been nearly unhittable so far this season. She has a 1.08 earned-run average and has only given up three hits in 8.1 innings pitched.
Series vs. Minnesota:
This is the first ever meeting between Coastal and Minnesota. The Chants have a lifetime 9-10 record against the Big Ten Conference. Coastal won its last game against the Big Ten last season, defeating Penn State Mar. 26 2-0.
Scouting North Carolina:
North Carolina had strong opening weekend of action as the Lady Tar Heels won the FIU Diamond Fun in the Sun Classic, defeating Arkansas twice and Florida International and #10 Georgia once. Leading the charge for UNC this season has been sophomore second baseman Cassie Palmer. Palmer was named the ACC Player of the Week and the MVP of the tournament after collecting nine hits, scoring seven runs and driving in six on the weekend. Junior shortstop Anna Evans has also been outstanding in the early going for the Lady Tar Heels as she is tied for the team lead with six RBI. In the circle, freshman Amber Johnson has started the season 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA.
Series vs. North Carolina:
The Lady Chants have a lifetime record of 3-16 against North Carolina. Last season, UNC defeated the Chanticleers 3-0 on Mar. 25 despite a 2-for-3 effort from senior Sara Hostetler. Coastal has faired slightly better against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference overall with a record of 18-36.
This weekends tournament will be opening day for Toledo. The Rockets are coming off a 2005 campaign that saw them go 26-29. Senior shortstop Gina Muratori is the best returning hitter for the Rockets. She had a team-best .418 batting average with 29 runs scored and 10 doubles last year. Also back for another year for Toledo is junior outfielder Erica Singer. Singer led the team with six home runs and 29 RBI a year ago while carrying a .312 batting average. Senior pitcher Stephanie Moore returns after going 11-14 with a 2.46 earned-run average last year.
Series vs. Toledo:
The Lady Chanticleers and Toledo have played one time as the Rockets defeated Coastal 8-2 back on Mar. 25, 1995. After wins last year over Central Michigan and Western Michigan, the Chants are 8-8 lifetime against the Mid-American Conference.
Over the last three years Coastal has faced teams from the Big Ten Conference four times and in every one of those games, senior Brittany Nelson has been the starter. In her last start against the Big Ten last season, Nelson shutout Penn State 2-0 on Mar. 26.
A Different Trend:
The 2006 season was the first time since 1998 that Coastal had opened a season at home. In the previous two years, redshirt junior pitcher Christine Doyle had been the opening day pitcher on the road, so two trends were broken when junior Danyelle Gerdts started the first game of the season.
She Doesnt Mind the Challenge:
On the current Coastal pitching staff junior Danyelle Gerdts has the most experience against current ACC opponents. In her first two years, Gerdts has already started six games against ACC opponents and compiled a solid 2.72 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 36 innings.
Hostetler Feasts on the MAC:
Coastals senior third baseman Sara Hostetler has made quite a name for herself against schools from the Mid-American Conference. Hostetler has a career average of .368 with seven hits, two runs scored and two RBI.
A Balanced Attack:
Through the first three games of the 2006 season has shown Coastal to be a balanced attack. Seniors Kelly Feely, Brittany Nelson, Sara Hostetler and sophomore Allison Cantrell all have two RBI.
The Strikeout Queen:
Senior Brittany Nelson has been the strikeout queen in the early going for Coastal. In 7.2 innings covering two appearances, Nelson has 11 strikeouts this year.
First Game On the Road for CCU:
CCU has a 7-11 record in its first road game of the season during the Jess Dannelly tenure. Last season, to open the 2005 season the Chants were defeated by South Carolina 8-2.
Johnson is a Road Warrior:
Coastal Carolina senior right handed pitcher/designated player Meagen Johnson was outstanding both at the plate and on the mound on the road for Coastal last season. In road games at the plate Johnson scorched the softball hitting a team-best .378 with four doubles, a home run and eight RBIs. On the mound, Johnson was almost more impressive, she lead the team with a 4-0 record and a miniscule 0.88 era.
Sheppard Likes the Road:
Junior Kristina Sheppard has a solid career average of .324 with two home runs, two doubles and nine RBI on the road in her first two years as a Chanticleer.
Hastings and Gerdts Came Up Big:
The last time the Chants traveled to Chapel Hill, N.C. was for the Carolina Classic, Mar. 25-27, 2005. That weekend saw Coastal go 4-2. Senior Lynee Hastings had a big weekend as she went 4-for-9 with two runs scored and three RBI. Sophomore shortstop Ashley Gerdts also had a big weekend with two home runs and five RBI.
Theyre at Home....Even when Were Not:
Coastals junior first base Kimberly Cillis hit a team-best .292 last season in neutral site games. Sophomore Allison Cantrell also hit well at neutral sites as she had a team-best 10 RBI and 26 total bases last year.
Senior Brittany Nelson led the pitching staff with a 1.71 ERA and six wins in neutral site games last year. Finishing right behind her with a 1.71 ERA and five wins was senior Meagen Johnson.
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 574-413. 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:
Coastals 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.
Its a Sisterly Thing:
Redshirt junior catcher Glynn Tolleson is the sister of former Lady Chanticleer Morgan Tolleson. Morgan Tolleson played for Coastal from 2002-2003. From the circle she appeared in 24 games and compiled a record of 9-9 with a 2.58 earned-run average.
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 Carolinas softball team has several career milestones in reach.
After her home run against Illinois State, senior Kelly Feely now has 13 career home runs and is tied with former Lady Chanticleer Cari Rowe for seventh place. Former Lady Chant Michelle Hall is in sixth place with 15 home runs.
Senior Sara Hostetler now has 28 career doubles and is tied with former Lady Chant Holly Lee for seventh place.
Senior Katey Allen with 20 career stolen bases only needs one to reach ninth place and Kacee Crumpacker.
Senior pitcher Brittany Nelson has 78 appearances and only trails fifth place, Stephanie Belden, by 14 appearances.
Nelson with 35 complete games trails sixth place by seven. Nelsons 33 victories trails sixth place by four. Belden currently is ranked ahead of Nelson in both categories.
Nelson is also among the leaders in innings pitched as she is 37 innings from moving into sixth place all-time in innings pitched currently held by Tracey Russ.
Next, Coastal Carolinas softball team returns home to host the Myrtle Beach/Chevrolet CCU Classic from Feb. 24-26. Coastal will begin its weekend as it takes on Minnesota at 3 p.m. on Feb. 24. The Chanticleers conclude the day taking on Virginia Tech at 5:30 p.m. On Feb. 25, the Chants will see Pittsburgh at 9 a.m. before beginning seed play later that afternoon with a championship game to follow the next day Feb. 26.