Feb. 20, 2014
CONWAY - The Coastal Carolina University softball team makes its only road trip prior to conference play this weekend when it travels to Gainesville, Fla., for the Lipton Invitational, hosted by the University of Florida.
The Chanticleers (5-1) will play two games on Friday and Saturday and then cap the tournament by facing No. 1 ranked Florida on Sunday. It will mark the program's first-ever game against the nation's top-ranked team.
Before challenging the Gators, however, Coastal will take on Georgia Southern Friday at 9 a.m. and then play Indiana at 1:30 p.m. On Saturday, CCU will face Troy at 9:30 a.m. and then meet Georgia Southern again at 4:30 p.m. The game against Florida is scheduled for noon on Sunday.
The Chanticleers are off to a 5-1 start through the first two weekends of play. Kory Hayden and Bri Chiusano are leading the way offensively. Hayden has five home runs, 12 RBIs and a 1.263 slugging percentage, while Chiusano is batting .389 with eight runs scored and seven stolen bases. Kiana Quolas is 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 22 innings.
Ashley Bagwell and Hayden are on the verge of a pair of milestones as Bagwell is one strikeout away from 500 for her career and Hayden's next RBI will be her 100th.
Georgia Southern (6-3) has outscored its opponents 46-15 in two tournaments this season and features two-time All-Region pitcher Sarah Purvis. The righthander, who is also two-time Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year, limited No. 2/3 Tennessee to one run and four hits in a 1-0 loss during the opening weekend. The Eagles won the SoCon title last year, got one victory in NCAA Regional play and lost to USF twice by one run.
Indiana (1-9) has lost nine straight games since winning its season opener, while Troy (4-5-1) went 2-3 last weekend at the North Florida Invitational.
Florida is 12-0 after a 6-0 win over Jacksonville on Wednesday night. The Gators have already scored 105 runs this season, own convincing victories over USF and No. 21 Minnesota and rallied from four runs down in the seventh inning to beat then-No. 4 Michigan, 9-4. Senior pitcher Hannah Rogers and junior pitcher/first baseman Lauren Heager both earned First Team All-American honors last season. Rogers is 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA this season, while Heager is 4-0 with a 0.78 ERA and is also hitting .400.