The Coastal Carolina softball team (1-4) hosts its second and last home tournament of the season, the Myrtle Beach Chevrolet/CCU Softball Classic, as it welcomes in Pittsburgh (1-4), Minnesota (2-6) and Virginia Tech (5-0) for a weekend series from Feb. 24-26.
Myrtle Beach Chevrolet/CCU Softball Classic Schedule:
Friday, Feb. 24
10 a.m.- Virginia Tech vs. Pittsburgh
12:30 p.m.- Pittsburgh vs. Minnesota
3 p.m.- Minnesota vs. Coastal Carolina
5:30 p.m.- Coastal Carolina vs. Virginia Tech
Saturday, Feb. 25
9 a.m. - Coastal Carolina vs. Pittsburgh
11:30 a.m.- Minnesota vs. Virginia Tech
1 p.m.- No. 1 Seed vs. No. 4 Seed
3:30 p.m.- No. 2 Seed vs. No. 3 Seed
6 p.m.- Consolation Championship
Sunday, Feb. 26
Minnesota played four games over the weekend at the Triangle Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Golden Gophers ended up splitting the four games. Minnesota opened the weekend dropping a 7-1 game to Coastal, but the Golden Gophers rallied and split a pair of games against Toledo and defeated Akron to salvage the weekend. Offensively for the Gophers, junior catcher Megan Higginbotham has been the star as she is hitting .400 with eight hits, three doubles, four runs scored and an RBI through the first eight games. Junior pitcher Mandy Valdez has been nearly unhittable so far this season. She has a 0.66 earned-run average and has only given up six hits in 13.2 innings pitched.
Series vs. Minnesota:
This is the second ever meeting between Coastal and Minnesota. The two schools met last weekend in the Triangle Classic with CCU winning going away 7-1. The big blow of the afternoon was a three-run home run from junior Kristina Sheppard. The Lady Chants have a lifetime 10-10 record against the Big Ten Conference, but are riding a two-game winning streak against the Big Ten. Besides this years win, CCU defeated Penn State 2-0 in 2005.
Scouting Virginia Tech:
The Hokies are coming in red hot having won the Holiday Inn Green and White Tournament last weekend and are off to a perfect 5-0 record to start the season. Virginia Tech has outscored their opponents by a combined 39-3 margain. The team batting average for Tech is .421. Leading the evenly balanced offensive charge have been the freshmen. Freshman Jessica Everhart has a team-best .571 batting average. Fellow freshman Beth Walker and Charisse Maricond have also gotten off to fast starts as they are tied for the team lead with seven RBI each. The pitching staff has also been strong for Virginia Tech as sophomore Angela Tincher has been simply stunning. She sports a 2-0 record, but even more amazing is in her 16 innings pitched she has fanned 38 and only given up two hits. Senior Katie Maynard has been impressive as well, as she is 3-0 and has struck out 20 in 15 innings in the circle.
Series vs. Virginia Tech:
CCU has a 4-3 record against Virginia Tech since the two schools started playing softball against each other in 1989. The Lady Chants won the last game these two teams played, 5-1 in 2003. Coastal has an overall record of 18-37 against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Panthers will come in fully rested as Pitt has not taken the field since dropping four of five games against a very competitive field in the Florida Atlantic Tournament two weeks ago. Senior Francesca DiMaria has been the best hitter for Pittsburgh. She is hitting .333 with six hits, three runs, an RBI and a walk this year. Senior Christina Hunter has been solid for the Panthers on the mound. She won the only game she pitched this year allowing only three hits in a complete game against Florida Atlantic.
Series vs. Pittsburgh:
The Lady Chanticleers trail the all-time series to Pittsburgh 1-4. The Lady Chants lost their last two games to the Panthers, including last years 1-0 defeat at the Speedline Tournament. Overall against BIG EAST opponents, CCU has amassed a record of 7-20.
Over the last four years, Coastal has faced teams from the Big Ten Conference five times and in every one of those games except one, senior Brittany Nelson has been the starter. The only game Nelson didnt start was this years game against Minnesota, she came in and threw two innings of scoreless relief.
Cillis is a Gopher Killer:
Junior Kimberly Cillis was on base all three times against Minnesota earlier this season. She went 2-for-2 with a run scored and a walk.
She Doesnt Mind the Challenge:
On the current Coastal pitching staff, junior Danyelle Gerdts has the most experience against current ACC opponents. In her three years, Gerdts has already started seven games against ACC opponents and compiled a solid 3.12 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 38.1 innings pitched.
The One and Only Time:
The current Chants have only faced Virginia Tech once, but it was a 5-1 victory in 2003. In that game, senior Sara Hostetler went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Redshirt junior Christine Doyle went the distance for the Chants, giving up one run on three hits while striking out eight.
They Feast on the Big East:
CCU junior Kristina Sheppard has feasted on the pitching in the BIG EAST throughout the first three years of her career. Sheppard has a career batting average of .444 with four hits in nine at-bats. Lady Chants sophomore Allison Cantrell has also hits the BIG EAST well as she hit .429 in three games last season.
Home Sweet Home:
Seniors Kelly Feely and Sara Hostetler love hitting at the friendly confines of CCU Softball Field. Feely has a career batting average of .333 with seven home runs and 21 RBI at her home facility. Hostetler has been even better as she has batted .353 with four home runs and 30 RBI.
From the circle in the day light for Coastal over the last two years senior Meagen Johnson has shown very brightly. Over the last two years Johnson has a record of 10-4, a 1.42 ERA, 76 strikeouts in 93.1 innings from the mound in day games.
When the lights go out no Lady Chanticleer is a better hitter than junior Kimberly Cillis. Cillis has the highest career batting average on the team in night games at .347 to go along with a home run and four RBI.
A Balanced Attack:
The first five games of the 2006 season has shown Coastal to be a balanced offensive attack. Senior Sara Hostetler, junior Kristina Sheppard and sophomore Allison Cantrell all have driven in three runners.
Getting it Done When it Counts:
Coastal has scored 14 runs on the season, but six of those runs or 43 percent have been driven in after two outs were made in an inning.
The Strikeout Queen:
Senior Brittany Nelson has been the strikeout queen in the early going for Coastal. In 9.2 innings covering three appearances this season, Nelson has 12 strikeouts.
Its a Long Drive:
Coastal has shown good power in the first five games of the season as three different Lady Chants have already hit home runs. That means CCU has hit a home run in 60 percent of its games this year. In comparison, last years squad homered in 30 percent of their games.
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.
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 575-414. 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 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 freshmen 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.
Junior Kristina Sheppard with her home run against Minnesota now has nine home runs good for 9th place tied with former Lady Chant Leslie Steele.
Senior Sara Hostetler now has 28 career doubles and is tied with former Lady Chant Holly Lee for seventh place.
Senior Katey Allen with 21 career stolen bases has tied Kacee Crumpacker for ninth place.
Senior pitcher Brittany Nelson has 79 appearances and only trails fifth place, Stephanie Belden, by 13 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 35 innings from moving into sixth place all-time in innings pitched currently held by Tracey Russ.
Next, Coastal Carolinas softball team takes to the road again as the Lady Chants travel down to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to participate in the Crimson Classic. Coastal will start the tournament on Mar. 3 as they play against Drake at 11 a.m., and Ohio State at 1 p.m. The Lady Chants will take on the host school Alabama on Mar. 4 at 1 p.m. before beginning bracket play later that afternoon with a championship game to follow the next day.