BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Coastal Carolina's softball team opened Big South Conference play by splitting its doubleheader with Birmingham-Southern Saturday, March 29 at the BSC Softball Park. The Lady Chanticleers (13-21, 1-1 Big South) lost the first game 7-0, but rebounded in the second with a 9-1 victory.
In the first game, Birmingham-Southern (21-14, 1-1 Big South) scored six of its seven runs in the first and second innings, recording one run in the first and then five in the second. During the first inning, Kayla Backlund reached first on a bunt. Backlund moved to second off a Melissa Muehlenfeld single, but a Coastal throwing error on the same play allowed Backlund to advance to third. Then with one out, Backlund scored off a passed ball and gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
In the second inning with the bases loaded and two outs, Muehlenfeld hit a two-run single up the middle to give Birmingham-Southern a three-run advantage. Danielle Honore' was hit by a pitch in order to load up the bases again and then Lindsay Creighton hit a three-run double to left field to make it a 5-0 game.
The Panthers scored their final run of the game in the fifth inning on a controversial call. With two outs and Melissa Revis and Grace Stokes on the corners, Anne Lawrence hit into a fielder's choice to sophomore shortstop Laicole Walker (Wichita, Kan./Wichita Collegiate School), who looked to beat out Revis at second, but Revis was called safe and Stokes scored to put Birmingham-Southern up 7-0.
Bethney Reynoldson allowed just two hits in seven innings en route to picking up the win. Freshman Ashley Pedersen (Fayetteville, Ga./Whitewater) had the loss after giving up seven runs, one of which was earned, on eight hits.
Each Lady Chant registered at least one hit in the second game. The offense started early as Coastal held a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Sophomore Alicia Irwin (Salina, Kan./Salina South) started the Lady Chanticleer offense with a single. Walker reached first on a bunt that also moved Irwin to second. Both runners advance one base off a freshman Ashley Pisone (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield Area) sacrifice bunt. Freshman Cass Stuart (Colville, Wash./Colville) hit an RBI single up the middle that moved Walker to third and allowed Irwin to score, but Stuart got out on the play as she attempted to reach second. With two outs, junior Kelsey Riffel (Wichita, Kan./Maize) blasted her first career home run with a two-run shot to left center that also scored Walker.
The Lady Chanticleers added to their lead in the top of the third. With one out, junior Verity Long-Droppert (Claremont, Australia/Shenton (Western Australia)) doubled to center field. She reached third as Irwin hit into a fielder's choice and then scored off a Walker sacrifice fly to left field to make it a 4-0 Coastal game.
Birmingham-Southern scored its only run of the game during the fifth inning. Lawrence had a lead-off single through the left side. With one out, Backlund had a sacrifice hit that allowed Lawrence to move to second. Muehlenfeld singled, but a Coastal error allowed Muehlenfeld to reach second and for Lawrence to score to make it 4-1 still in favor of Coastal.
However, Coastal continued to increase its lead, scoring three-runs in the third inning and two in the seventh. During the sixth inning, Walked singled then reached second on a Pisone sacrifice and moved to third on a Stuart groundout. Riffel hit an RBI single to center field that scored Walker to give CCU a five-run lead. Sophomore Alyssa Tornatore (Frederick, Md./Tusacorca) walked in order to give Coastal runners at first and second. In the next at-bat, sophomore Mecaela Ballard (Groves, Texas/Port Neches Grove (Galveston JC)) loaded the bases with a single to Birmingham-Southern's pitcher Janira Santiago. Junior Brittany Birnbaum (Chino Hills, Calif./Ayala) drove in both Riffel and Tornatore with a single to right field to put CCU up 7-1.
Walker opened the seventh inning with a single up the middle and then moved to second off a Pisone single to left field. A Stuart sacrifice allowed both Walker and Pisone to advance one base. As Riffel lined out to DiAmond Jordan at shortstop, the Panthers attempted to also get Walker out at third, but a throwing error resulted in Walker being able to make it home. With Tornatore at-bat, Pisone advanced to third on a wild pitch and then eventually scored as Tornatore ripped a double to left center.
Sophomore Ashley Frederick (Lusby, Md./Paxtuent) had the win after throwing seven innings. She allowed four hits, had one unearned run scored, and fanned four batters. Santiago had the loss after giving up nine runs off 14 hits in seven innings.
Walker went 3-for-3 from the plate during the second game and also scored three runs, while Riffel was 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs.
The Lady Chants concludes their series with Birmingham-Southern Sunday, March 30 at 12 p.m. CDT.