KENNESAW, GA. -- Coastal Carolina's softball team came away with two wins at the Owl Classic Sunday. March 16 at Kennesaw State's Bailey Park. The Lady Chanticleers topped Manhattan College 4-3 in the eight innings in the first game and then defeated Alabama State 6-2 in the second game.
Against Manhattan, Coastal opened up the scoring in the top of the third, scoring two runs off three hits. With one out and no one on base, junior Kelsey Riffel (Wichita, Kan./Maize) hit a hard base hit to Manhattan's Nicole Michel at shortstop. A Mecaela Ballard (Groves, Texas/Port Neches Groves (Galveston JC)) walk moved Riffel to second and gave CCU two runners on base. Junior Brittany Birnbaum (Chino Hills, Calif./Ayala) hit a fly ball that dropped in right center that advanced Ballard to third and allowed Riffel to score. Junior Verity Long-Droppert (Claremont, Australia/Shenton (Western Australia)) ripped a hit through the left side that scored Ballard and give the Lady Chants a 2-0 advantage.
The Lady Chants maintained the lead until Manhattan used a two-run sixth inning to knot the game at two apiece. With one out, Giana Cirilli struck out swinging, but advanced to first on a passed ball. A single to center field by Devon Gustafson allowed Cirilli to move to second. With Melissa Cascio at-bate, both Cirilli and Gustafson advanced one base off a passed. Cascio hit an RBI single up the middle that moved Gustafson to third and allowed Cirilli to score. Lauren Mende came in to pinch run for Cascio and eventually was caught stealing. However, with Gustafson still at third, Michel had a hit to right field that drove in Gustafson and tied the game 2-2.
Coastal regained the lead in the top of the seventh. Riffel started the inning with a single to left field and the eventually stole second. Ballard laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced Riffel to move to third. A wild pitch by Melissa Donnelly allowed Riffel to score and give CCU the 3-2 lead.
However, the Lady Jaspers evened the score once again by scoring one run in the bottom of the seventh. Kristina Walraven had a double to left center to begin the inning and then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Donnelly. Walraven then scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by Lyndzie Phillips to make it a 3-3 game and force extra innings.
Sophomore Alicia Irwin (Salina, Kan./Salina South) placed on second to start the eighth inning due to the international tie-breaker rule and moved to third on a wild pitch. Classmate Laicole Walker (Wichita, Kan./Wichita Collegiate School) walked and eventually stole second to give CCU runners in scoring position. Sophomore Alyssa Tornatore (Frederick, Md./Tuscacora) hit an RBI-single that drove in Irwin to score what proved to be the game-winning run.
Sophomore Ashley Frederick (Lusby, Md./Paxtuent) was awarded the win after pitching all eight innings. Frederick allowed three runs, one of which was earned, off seven hits and fanned a season-best 12 batters. Donnelly had the loss after also throwing eight innings. She allowed four runs, three of which were earned, off eight hits.
In the second game, Coastal had runs from Ballard and freshman Michelle Evans (Upland, Calif./Upland) in order to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Ballard reached base on an error and then stole second before advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Birnbaum. She then scored as Long-Droppert grounded out to Alabama State's Quayanna Forte. With two outs, Evans singled to right field and, on the same play, advanced to second on a Hornet error. An Irwin double down the left field line drove in Evans.
Coastal added one run in both the second and the third innings. Freshman Ashley Pisone (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield Area) walked to start the second inning. Pisone reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Riffel and then advanced to third as Ballard grounded out. Birnbaum hit an RBI single up the middle that drove in Pisone. Meanwhile, in the third inning, Walker walked with one out. After freshman Ashley Pedersen (Fayetteville, Ga./Whitewater) popped up, Walker eventually stole second. Pisone laced a single to left field that scored Walker from second, putting CCU ahead 4-0.
Alabama State cut CCU's lead down to two in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run, two-out blast to center field by Ja'Vonna Grimsley. The home run also scored Tiffany Wells, who reached first on a single, stole second and made it to third on a Quaniesha Limbrick groundout.
The Lady Chants pushed their lead to three in the top of the sixth. Long-Droppert singled up the middle to start the inning. After two Coastal outs, Long-Droppert stole second and scored when Walker reached back on an Alabama State error to make it a 5-2 game.
Ballard scored CCU's final run of the game in the seventh. With one out, she singled to Forte in the pitching circle. Ballard advanced to second off a Birnbaum single to center field and then scored off a Long-Droppert single up the middle to give CCU the 6-2 advantage.
Pedersen had the win after pitching 4.1 innings and allowing two runs off two hits. Evans picked up the save after throwing the last 2.2 innings, giving up no hits. Forte had the loss after throwing all seven innings, giving up six runs - three earned - off ten hits.
Long-Droppert hit .714 on Sunday, connecting on five hits in seven at-bats, registering one double, three RBI and one run. Meanwhile, Birnbaum and Riffel both hit .500. Ballard led the team with three runs.
The Lady Chants return to action Thursday, March 20 with a doubleheader against Presbyterian at the CCU Softball Field. First pitch of the doubleheader is scheduled for 2 p.m.