THE REGULAR SEASON COMES TO A CLOSE: Coastal Carolina concludes the regular season this week with a midweek doubleheader at North Carolina State Wednesday, April 23 and then hosts Radford in a three-game Big South Conference series Saturday, April 26-Sunday, April 27.
SEASON FINALE TO BE BROADCAST ON ESPNU: Coastal’s regular season finale against Radford April 27 will be aired live on ESPNU. The CCU-Radford game will mark just the second Big South softball game to be televised on ESPNU. Game time is set for 1 p.m.m, with Beth Mowins and Cheri Kempf calling the action. ESPNU is digital channel 162 for HTC customers and digital channel 160 for Time Warner Cable customers.
LEADING THE NATION: Junior Brittany Birnbaum has the nation’s top sacrifice hits with 0.52 per game according to the NCAA Rankings for games through April 13. At the time, Birnbaum had 21 sacrifice hits in 40 games. She currently has 25 sacrifice hits, which ranks fourth among CCU’s single-season leaders.
SCOUTING NORTH CAROLINA STATE: Plays final two home games of the season against Coastal... Swept by No. 15 North Carolina in a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series... Prior to the North Carolina series, had won three straight... Is 4-1 against Big South teams this season, defeating Liberty 2-1 (Feb. 24) and Winthrop 2-0 and 8-0 (March 26) and splitting with Radford April 8 (won 3-1, lost 4-1)... Led by Alyssa Allbritten with a team-best .343 batting average (48-for-140, 17 doubles) and Shanna Smith with a .333 batting average (52-for-156, 11 home runs).
SCOUTING RADFORD: Won its last five games, including a three-game series sweep of Liberty April 19-20... Has only two Big South losses on the season, both to conference leader Winthrop... Plays two midweek doubleheaders, one at Elon (April 22) and then hosting Longwood (April 24)... Has five players with at least a .300 batting average in 48 games, including team leader Sarah Himan with a .367 batting average (51-for-139) in 48 games started.
SCOTT SCORES ONLY RUN OF THE WEEK: During the week of April 14-20, freshman Jessica Scott recorded Coastal’s lone run of the week in the sixth inning in the 3-1 loss to Winthrop. Scott came in to pinch run for junior Brittany Birnbuam, who reached base on a single through the left side. Scott moved to second after junior Verity Long-Droppert walked and then a single by senior Allison Cantrell loaded the bases. Freshman Michelle Evans’ deep sacrifice fly to center field that gave plenty of room for Scott to score from third base.
CCU GOES 2-4, BUT WINS BIG SOUTH SERIES: Although Coastal won just two games during the week of April 7-13, those two victories came during the Lady Chants’ three-game Big South series with Liberty, allowing CCU to take its third Big South series of the season. In each of their conference series this season, the Lady Chants have come away with two of the three games and carry a 6-3 Big South record into this weekend’s action.
COMEBACK KIDS: Coastal has recorded eight comeback wins this season, including a 3-2 game one win over Liberty Saturday, April 12. In that game, Coastal trailed 2-0 before tying the game in the fifth with runs from junior Verity Long-Droppert and senior Allison Cantrell. Freshman Jessica Scott scored what proved to be the game-winner when Long-Droppert hit a sacrifice fly to right field in the fifth inning.
MIDWEEK HOMERS: Both of Coastal’s two home run shots for the week of April 7-13 came in two of the three midweek games. Senior Allison Cantrell had a one-out shot to right field in the seventh inning of the first game against Gardner-Webb April 8. Meanwhile, sophomore Alicia Irwin’s blast came a day later in the fifth inning against South Carolina and gave CCU a 2-1 lead.
CCU SWIPES SERIES FROM CHARLESTON SOUTHERN: With a two-game sweep of Charleston Southern Sunday, April 6, Coastal Carolina came back to win the three-game Big South series. The Lady Buccaneers took the first game Friday, April 4 with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory at Buccaneer Field. Meanwhile, the Lady Chants emerged with 8-1 and 3-2 wins on Sunday.
CANTRELL MAKES RETURN: Senior Allison Cantrell returned to CCU’s line-up Tuesday, April 2 against the College of Charleston after being out for the last six-and-a-half weeks due to a hand injury. Cantrell scored five runs, with one coming in each of Coastal’s five games last week.
THIRD’S THE CHARM: In two out of the three games with Charleston Southern, junior Verity Long-Droppet smacked two-run home runs in the third inning. Long-Droppert’s first longball versus the Lady Bucs came in game one of the series Friday, April 4, while her second of the series occurred in game three and was ultimately the game-winner. Additionally, the only other runner on base when Long-Droppert hit both of her homers was senior Allison Cantrell.
PITCHERS GO LONG: Freshmen pitchers Ashley Pedersen and Michelle Evans both recorded their second home runs of the season against Charleston Southern Sunday, April 6. But what makes Pedersen’s and Evans’ longballs more unique was that each of their home runs occurred in the same game in which they started in the pitching circle. Pedersen pitched all seven innings in Sunday’s 8-1 game one victory and added a three-run blast to left field in the fifth inning. Meanwhile, Evans pitched 6.2 innings in the 3-2 game two win and knocked a solo shot to left field during the second inning.
CCU SWEEPS UNC WILMINGTON, WINS SERIES FROM BIRMINGHAM-SOUTHERN: The Lady Chanticleers went 4-1 during the week of March 24-30, picking up two wins against both UNC Wilmington and Birmingham-Southern. In its midweek doubleheader with the Seahawks, Coastal powered its way to a 12-4 five-inning win in the first game and then squeaked out a 4-3 victory in the second. After starting the series with Birmingham-Southern with a 7-0 loss, Coastal rebounded with a dominating 9-1 win in the second game and then concluded the series with a 2-1 eight-inning come-from-behind win.
CCU GETS FIRST FIVE-INNING WIN OF SEASON: In Game one versus UNC Wilmington, The Lady Chanticleers used an eight-run fourth inning to hold a 12-4 lead and then shutdown all three UNC Wilmington batters in the top of the fifth in order to come away with their first five-inning victory of the season. CCU’s last five-inning win came last season as the Lady Chants shutout Birmingham-Southern 9-0 April 22.
PLATE PERFECTION: Five Lady Chants had perfect plate appearances in two of CCU’s five games last week. Junior Brittany Birnbaum, sophomore Alicia Irwin and freshman Ashley Pisone were 2-for-2 in the first game versus UNC Wilmington. Sophomore Laicole Walker had a 3-for-3 outing and classmate Alyssa Tornatore went 2-for-2 in game two at Birmingham-Southern.
IT’S A FIRST FOR RIFFEL: Junior Kelsey Riffel smashed her first career home run in CCU’s second game against Birmingham-Southern Saturday, March 29. Riffel hit a two-run shot to left field in the second inning that put Coastal up 3-0. The Wichita, Kan., native went 2-for-4 from the plate with two runs and three RBI during that game.
LADY CHANTS WIN TWO, LOSE TWO: Coastal Carolina had a 2-2 record for the week of March 17-23. The Lady Chants saw their winning streak extend to five games with a doubleheader sweep of Presbyterian Thursday, March 20, but the streak ended as Georgia Tech won two games Saturday, March 22.
ALL THE WAY TO 10: On the season, Coastal has played in three 10-inning games - a feat that has not occurred in a single season prior to this year. Additionally, Coastal picked up its first 10-inning victory since 1991 with a 6-5 win over Presbyterian in game one of the Thursday, March 20 doubleheader. The Lady Chants have never played in a game longer than 10 innings and have only reached 10-innings on eight different occasions in their history.
LONG-DROPPERT BLASTS A THIRD: Junior Verity Long-Droppert hit her team-leading third home run of the season with a two-run blast in Game two versus Georgia Tech at the CCU Softball Field Saturday, March 22. Long-Droppert’s other two long shots have also occurred at the CCU Softball Field with home runs against Maryland (Feb. 16) and Hampton (Feb. 23).
SOLO FOR WALKER: Sophomore Laicole Walker had her first career home run in game one against Presbyterian. Walker had a solo shot to right field and went on to go 3-for-5 from the plate with two runs scored and two RBI in that game against the Blue Hose.
COASTAL WINS TWO AT OWL CLASSIC: The Lady Chants won both of their games Sunday, March 16 at the shortened Owl Classic hosted by Kennesaw State. After CCU’s games on Saturday, March 15 were cancelled due to severe thunderstorms and two tornado warnings in the Kennesaw, Ga. area, CCU only played Manhattan and Alabama State on Sunday. The Lady Chants came away with the 4-3 win over Manhattan in eight innings and then topped Alabama State 6-2.
LADY CHANTS WIN IN EIGHT: Sophomore Alyssa Tornatore had the game-winning RBI single in the top of the eighth inning against Manhattan Sunday, March 16 that allowed classmate Alicia Irwin to score and eventually give CCU the 4-3 victory. The win was CCU’s first extra-inning victory of the season.
LADY CHANTS SPLIT DOUBLEHEADER WITH USC UPSTATE: Coastal went 1-1 in its midweek series against USC Upstate Wednesday, March 12. The Lady Chants lost the first game 1-0 in 10 innings, but rebounded in the second with a come-from-behind 6-5 victory.
SNAPPING STREAKS: In Coastal’s 6-5 win over USC Upstate March 12, the Lady Chants ended both losing and scoreless skids. Coastal had dropped its last 11 games and then hadn’t scored a run in 52 innings. The scoreless stretch ended in the first inning as sophomore Mecaela Ballard scored off a Spartan error that allowed junior Verity Long-Droppert to reach base. Junior Brittany Birnbaum hit a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth that drove in junior Kelsey Riffel and freshman b, giving CCU the 6-5 lead and capping a four-run, two-hit sixth inning.
IRWIN DROPS A BOMB... AGAIN: Sophomore Alicia Irwin sparked Coastal’s four-run sixth inning in game two against USC Upstate with a lead-off home run. It was Irwin’s second longball this season and the fifth of her career.
DEALING WITH THE ELEMENTS: Mother Nature was not on CCU’s side weather-wise for the week of March 4-9. The Lady Chants had games either postponed or cancelled due to rain and thunderstorms as well as played two games at the USF Under Armour Invitational in windy and cold conditions.
TEAM USA EXHIBITION WASHED OUT: With rain and thunderstorms rolling through the Clearwater, Fla. area Thursday, March 6, Coastal’s exhibition game with Team USA was cancelled. The game was part of Team USA’s Bound 4 Beijing tour, which features 46 stops before Team USA travels to Beijing, China for the 2008 Summer Olympics Aug. 8-24.
NOT A GOOD TIME AT THE USF UNDER ARMOUR INVITATIONAL: Coastal Carolina went 0-5 at the USF Under Armour Invitational held at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. Among those CCU lost to were No. 13 Baylor and Michigan State, who had upset Baylor in extra innings.
NEW TOPS: Coastal Carolina debuted two new uniform jerseys - a black one and a white one - at the USF Under Armour Invitational. Made by adidas, both jerseys have “Chants” written in teal in block lettering across the chest and have teal numbering on the front and the back.
NOT LIKE LAST TIME: Coastal Carolina was winless in its second trip to Jacksonville, Fla. The Lady Chanticleers lost all five games of the Jacksonville University Softball Tournament Feb. 29-March 2. Earlier this season, CCU went 2-4 at the JU/Best Western Invitational.
LONG-DROPPERT NAMED ALL-TOURNAMENT: Junior Verity Long-Droppert was selected to the JU Softball Tournament All-Tournament Team. Long-Droppert hit .375 on the weekend with six hits in 16 at-bats. She also registered two runs, one double and an RBI.
IT’S OUTTA HERE: Sophomore Alicia Irwin hit her first home run of the season and the fourth of her career with a two-run shot to left field in the fourth inning against Virginia. Last season, Irwin had home run against Elon, James Madison and Winthrop. Her home run against Elon was not only the first of her career, but a grand slam.
CCU TAKES TWO FROM HAMPTON: Coastal Carolina swept Hampton in a doubleheader Sunday, Feb. 24 at the CCU Softball Field. The Lady Chants won the first game 5-1 and then the second 3-0.
LONG-DROPPERT GOES LONG: Junior Verity Long-Droppert was a key part in the Lady Chants’ 5-1 win over Hampton. With the score tied 1-1 in the fifth inning, Long-Droppert smashed a grand slam to center field that gave CCU the 5-1 lead. Coastal’s last grand slam occurred when Alicia Irwin hit one in the third inning in CCU’s 8-0 win over Elon Feb. 18, 2007.
NONE FOR YOU: Coastal Carolina recorded its first shutout of the season with a 3-0 win in game two against Hampton. In Head Coach Jess Dannelly’s career, the Lady Chants have recorded 185 total shutouts and had the most during the 1991 season with 17.
ONLY ONE: Sophomore Ashley Frederick’s one-hitter in game two against the Lady Pirates was the fewest hits she has allowed while pitching a complete game. Prior to Sunday’s game, the fewest hits Frederick allowed while pitching a complete game was two versus Stephen F. Austin March 2, 2007. Coastal won that game 10-0 in five innings.
LADY CHANTS RALLY FOR WIN OVER ELON: Coastal came back from a 6-0 deficit to defeat Elon 7-6 Sunday, Feb. 17 for the Lady Chants first home win of the 2008 season. CCU got a bulk of its offense from a five-run third inning and then tied the game 6-6 in the fifth when freshman Ashley Pedersen scored off an RBI single by sophomore Mecaela Ballard. Then in the sixth, Pedersen had a lead-off home run to left field that give CCU the 7-6 lead and complete the comeback.
GOING, GOING, GONE!: Three Lady Chants recorded a home run during the Three-Way Doubleheader Feb. 16-17. Junior Verity Long-Droppert hit not only her first career home run at Coastal, but also had CCU’s first of the 2008 with a longball against Maryland Feb. 16. Senior Allison Cantrell tallied her 16th career homer against Elon Feb. 16. Meanwhile, freshman Ashley Pedersen’s homer against Elon Feb. 17 was the first of her collegiate career.
SEVEN AND THEN SOME: Out of CCU’s first 10 games this season, two have gone into extra innings. Under Head Coach Jess Dannelly, two extra inning games is the most CCU has had 10 games deep into the season, a trend that has occurred seven different times.
PISONE NAMED BIG SOUTH PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Freshman Ashley Pisone was selected as the first Big South Player of the Week for the 2008 season. The Greensburg, Pa., native was 6-for-18, hit .333, scored four runs and had one double and three RBI at the JU/Best Western Invitational Feb. 8-10. Defensively, Pisone had 22 putouts and one assist and a 1.000 fielding percentage.
WHILE AT THE JU/BEST WESTERN INVITATIONAL: Coastal Carolina went 2-4 at the JU/Best Western Invitational Feb. 8-10. The Lady Chants picked up their first win of the season with a 2-1 victory over UNC Greensboro Saturday, Feb. 9. CCU end the tournament with a 3-1 win over host Jacksonville Sunday, Feb. 10.
SIX IS THE NUMBER FOR WALKER: For sophomore Laicole Walker, six was not just her jersey number at the JU/Best Western Invitational. It was also the number of games she started, the number of runs she scored as well as the number of hits she had. Walker’s six runs were a team-high and she was one of four Lady Chants with six hits on the weekend.
IMPRESSIVE DEBUTS: Junior transfer Verity Long-Droppert and freshman Ashley Pisone had a pair of impressive debuts in Coastal’s season-opening weekend at the JU/Best Western Invitational. Both players registered six hits and three RBI. Of Long-Droppert’s six hits, three were for multiple bases as she had two doubles and one triple. Meanwhile, in addition to her six hits and three RBI, Pisone also scored four runs and posted a .333 batting average.
BIRNBAUM ON THE OFFENSE AND THE DEFENSE: Junior Brittany Birnbaum was the fourth Lady Chanticleer to tally six total hits during the JU/Best Western Invitational, going 6-for-18 with two runs and two RBI. Defensively, the first baseman from Chino Hills, Calif., native totaled 46 putouts.
COASTAL SELECTED THIRD IN PRESEASON POLL: CCU was selected to finish third in the annual Big South Conference preseason poll, as voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. The Lady Chants picked up 42 points in the poll. Defending Big South Conference champion Winthrop topped the poll with 68 points and 10 first-place votes.
WE’RE GOING STREAKING: With hits in the last two games, senior Allison Cantrell and freshman Michelle Evans have the longest current hitting streak for the Lady Chants. However, on the season, junior Verity Long-Droppert holds the longest hitting streak, connecting with the ball at least once in 17 games starting with Manhattan March 16 and ending against Gardner-Webb in Game one April 8. CCU alum Sara Graziano (1993-94) owns the NCAA record for consecutive games hit streak with 43. The CCU and Big South Hall of Famer connected on a hit in every game spanning from April 8, 1993 to March 24, 1994.
THE LONE RANGER: The 2008 roster consists of just one senior, Allison Cantrell. Cantrell joins juniors Brittany Birnbaum and Kelsey Riffel and junior transfers Shannon Connors and Verity Long-Droppert as the only upperclassman. Five sophomores and five freshmen round out the roster.
NOW FOR YOUR STARTERS...: Senior Allison Cantrell has been penciled in as a starter in all 157 games of her CCU career. Cantrell missed the second half of the 2006 season due to an injury and a good portion of the 2008 season with a hand injury. Cantrell is the only player on the 2008 roster to have played in more than 150 games at CCU.
TOUCH ‘EM ALL: A year ago, Allison Cantrell belted the second most home runs in a CCU single-season with 15. The record belongs to Meagen Johnson who connected on 20 longballs in the 2006 season. Cantrell is currently tied with Ashley Gerdts for ninth on the CCU career homers list with 18, trailing leader Holly Lee (2000-03) who hit 44.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: CCU welcomes nine newcomers to the program for the 2008 season. Transfers juniors Verity Long-Droppert (Western Australia) and Shannon Connors (Plattsburgh State) and sophomore Mecaela Ballard (Galveston JC) join freshmen Morgan Dodd, Michelle Evans, Ashley Pedersen, Ashley Pisone, Jessica Scott and Cass Stuart.
CANTRELL EARNS AWARDS: Senior Allison Cantrell collected several Big South honors during the 2007 season. She was named to the All-Big South Second Team and All-Tournament Team. She was also selected for the All-Tournament team during her freshman campaign in 2005.
HEAD COACH JESS DANNELLY: Jess Dannelly enters his 21st season at the helm for the Lady Chants. With his 649 career wins, Dannelly is the winningest coach in CCU history in any sport. The seven-time Big South Coach of the Year has led CCU to six regular season league titles, five Big South Tournament titles and four NCAA Regional Appearances.
THE ASSISTANTS: Sarah Lockett and Megan Matthews Buning, both superb collegiate softball players, join Dannelly as assistant coaches. Lockett was a three-year starter for the Lady Chants, leading Coastal to two Big South titles, while earning both Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year twice. Matthews Buning complied an outstanding collegiate career as a pitcher at South Carolina, finishing with over 100 wins and 1,090 strikeouts, the 11 most in NCAA history.