The Coastal Carolina softball team (1-8) takes to the road again as the Lady Chanticleers travel down to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to participate in the Crimson Classic. Coastal will start the tournament on March 3 as it plays against Drake (2-8) at 12 p.m., and Ohio State (6-8) at 2 p.m. The Lady Chants will take on the host school #7 Alabama (11-2) on March 4 at 2 p.m., before beginning bracket play later that afternoon with a championship game to follow the next day.
Crimson Classic Schedule:
Friday, March 3
12 p.m.- Drake vs. Coastal Carolina
2 p.m.- Ohio State vs. Coastal Carolina
Saturday, March 4
2 p.m. - Coastal Carolina at #7 Alabama
5/7 p.m.- Bracket Play
Sunday, March 5
12 /2:30 p.m.-Consolation/Championship
The Bulldogs played in the Lady Back Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. over the weekend and went 1-4 against some tough competition. The Bulldogs defeated Missouri-Kansas City 9-1 but dropped its games to North Dakota, Arkansas, Penn State and Missouri State. Senior Shanna Cook has a team best seven RBI on the season while junior Lindsey Larrys 12 hits lead the team. From the circle, senior Jessica Hicks has thrown 28.1 inning and fanned 25 with a 3.71 earned-run average.
Series vs. Drake:
This is the first ever meeting between these two schools, although Coastal is 2-5 lifetime against teams from the Missouri Valley Conference. Earlier this year, Coastal fell to Illinois State 6-4.
Scouting Ohio State:
The Buckeyes are off to a 6-8 start after dropping four of five games in the Palm Springs Classic. Two of those losses came to teams ranked in the current National Fastpitch Coaches Association top-25 (#1 Arizona and #3 UCLA). They did salvage the weekend by defeating #22 Oregon 6-0 for their lone victory in the tournament. Ohio State has a balanced offensive attack with seven players batting better than .286. Also as a team OSU has hit 17 home runs. Leading the offensive attack has been junior Megan Schwab, who has three home runs and 10 RBI. Freshman righty Kim Reeder has made an immediate impact for Ohio State as she is 2-3 in 40.1 innings with 2.78 ERA on the year.
Series vs. Ohio State:
Coastal and Ohio State have not met since the 1998 season with Ohio State coming away with an 11-3 win. CCU is 10-11 alltime against the Big Ten Conference and have won two of the last three times it has played against the Big Ten.
The Crimson Tide, who are ranked seventh, are off to an 11-2 start. The Tide rolled through last weekends rain shortened action at the NFCA Leadoff Classic with victories over Georgia Tech and defending national champion #5 Michigan. Sophomore Dani Woods leads UA in most offensive categories. Her five doubles, three home runs, 11 RBI and .400 batting average lead the squad in all four of those categories. From the mound, senior Stephanie VanBrakle has been nearly untouchable. She is 6-0 with a 0.49 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 43 innings pitched. Sophomore Chrissy Owens has also thrown well for Alabama. She has a 4-2 record, a 0.68 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 31 innings pitched.
Series vs. Alabama:
This is the first ever meeting between the Lady Chanticleers and Alabama. CCU dropped both its games earlier this year to fellow SEC squad #3 Tennessee by scores of 10-4 and 8-0.
A High Point in the Valley:
Senior Kelly Feely has yet to be retired by a pitcher from a school in the Missouri Valley Conference. She was a perfect 2-for-2 with a home run and two RBI and a walk against Illinois State earlier this season.
Over the last four years, Coastal has faced teams from the Big Ten Conference six times and in every one of those games except one, senior Brittany Nelson has been the made an appearance. The only time Nelson has not pitched against a Big Ten team was this years match up with Minnesota in the Myrtle Beach Chevrolet/CCU Softball Classic.
Cillis is a Nightmare for the Big Ten:
Junior Kimberly Cillis in four career games against the Big Ten Conference has hit a robust .500 with three hits in six at bats.
The SEC is for Me:
On the current Coastal pitching staff, senior Brittany Nelson has the most experience and success against the Southeastern Conference. Nelson is 2-2 with a 2.13 ERA, and 17 strikeouts in 26.2 innings pitched against the teams from the SEC.
She Holds the Key:
Over the last four years nobody controls the fourtunes of Coastal more than senior third baseman Sara Hostetler. In wins over the last four years she has hit a scalding .337 average with three home runs and 40 RBI, in comparison in losses Hostetlers batting average is .200 with a home run and 11 runs batted in.
The Light Will Lead You:
Juniors Kimberly Cillis and Kristina Sheppard have both hit well in the day light this season. Cillis has the highest batting average on the team at .455, while Sheppard leads with two home runs and four RBI during the day.
After a slow start to begin the season, after missing most of the last two seasons with injuries, redshirt junior Christine Doyle has been getting stronger over the last two weeks. In the last two weeks, covering four appearances, Doyle has thrown 13 innings and compiled a 1.62 ERA with 11 strikeouts.
Over the last two years no two Chants have hit better in neutral site games than junior Kimberly Cillis and sophomore Allison Cantrell. Cillis has the highest batting average on the team at .346 while Cantrell has hit .298 with a tied for a team best 11 RBI. She is tied with senior Kelly Feely who also has 11 RBI in neutral site games over the last two years.
A Balanced Attack:
The first nine games of the 2006 season has shown Coastal to be a balanced offensive attack. Seven different Chanticleers have driven in multiple runs this season. Junior Kristina Sheppard has a team best four RBI this season. Seniors Meagen Johnson and Sara Hostetler and sophomore Allison Cantrell have all driven in three runs this season.
Getting it Done When it Counts:
Coastal has scored 21 runs on the season, but eight of those runs, or 38 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 14.1 innings covering four appearances this season, Nelson has 16 strikeouts.
Its a Long Drive:
Coastal has shown great power in the first nine games of the season as four different Lady Chants have already homered in six of those games. That means CCU has hit a home run in 66 percent of its games this year. In comparison, last years squad homered in 30 percent of their games.
Need to Avoid the Big Inning:
Coastal has given up four or more runs in an inning four times through the first nine games. In their eight losses, CCU has put itself in an early hole as it has given up 18 runs in the first two innings.
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 575-418. 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 Meagen Johnson and Brittany Nelson, redshirt junior Christine Doyle 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 now has 10 career home runs good for 9th place all time at Coastal just behind teammate Kelly Feely.
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 80 appearances and only trails fifth place, Stephanie Belden, by 12 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 30.1 innings from moving into sixth place all-time in innings pitched currently held by Tracey Russ.
Next, Coastal Carolinas softball team comes home for a quick two game home stand against USC Upstate on Tuesday, March 7 in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. The Lady Chanticleers then travel down to Clearwater, Fla. to participate in the USF-Adidas Spring Break Invitational. CCU begins play on Thursday, March 9 against Illinois at 11 a.m. and Central Michigan at 6 p.m. Coastal takes the field again on Friday, March 10 as it take on Fordham at 1 p.m. and Virginia Tech at 6 p.m. The action continues on Saturday, March 11 as Coastal takes on Chattanooga at 11 a.m. before beginning bracket play at 4 p.m. The medal round will wrap up the tournament on Sunday, March 12 at either 9:30 or 11:30 a.m.