Follow the Coastal Carolina Softball team at the Big South Tournament presented by Texas Roadhouse on
CHANTICLEERS HEAD TO BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT, FACE FAMILIAR FOE IN LIBERTY: Coastal Carolina will play game two of the 2009 Big South Softball Tournament presented by Texas Roadhouse on Thurs., May 7 in Radford, Va. If the Chanticleers defeat Liberty, they will play Winthrop in game four of the tournament at 5:30 p.m. If the Chants drop the contest, Coastal Carolina will take on the loser of the Charleston Southern/Gardner-Webb contest at 10 a.m. on Friday morning.
COASTAL CAROLINA SWEPT BY LADY FLAMES: The Chants were defeated by the Lady Flames 8-1 on Friday, in a contest where Liberty scored three runs in the first inning to take the early lead. Falling behind early became a common theme for Coastal Carolina, as the Lady Flames outscored Coastal Carolina 14-2 in the first inning in the three game set. After an 8-3 loss in game one on Saturday, the Chants turned in the most exciting contest of the weekend in game three. Liberty scored eight runs in the top of the first inning, and held an eight 8-1 lead after one full inning. However, the Chants roared back in the second, posting a season-high seven runs in the second frame to knot the contest at 8-8. After three full innings, the score was tied up at 9-9, but Liberty scored a pair of runs in the fifth to take the 11-9 lead, and cruised on to a game three victory as well as the series sweep.
FINAL STOP OF THE JESS DANNELLY FAREWELL TOUR: Since taking over the young program in 1988, he has led the Chanticleers to five Big South championships, as well as trips to the 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2006 NCAA Regionals. He will leave Coastal Carolina as the winningest all-time coach in any sport currently with 669 career victories, ranking him 43rd in NCAA history in career victories, all coming with the Chanticleers. Entering the Big South Tournament, he holds the Big South All-Time record in wins with 179 victories. He has coached 20 Chants to NCAA All-Region honors, 92 athletes to All-Big South honors, and 63 players to Big South All-Tournament honors, and has been named Big South Coach of the Year on five occasions. He has also coached Sara Graziano, whose .589 batting average in 1994 still sits as the top mark in NCAA history. He was honored between games one and two of the doubleheader against Liberty on Saturday, where nearly 30 former players were on hand to bid farewell to the long-time head coach.
SENIOR SWAN SONG: Saturday marked the final home game from Coastal Carolina’s lone seniors, second baseman Kelsey Riffel and first baseman Brittany Birnbaum. This season, Riffel, the Wichita, Kansas native moved to second base and was more than up to the challenge, having a career year at the plate this season. Entering today’s game, Riffel is second on the team with a .302 batting average, which is 121 points better than her career average heading into this season. On the year, she has gone on to set career-highs in average, hits and RBI. Kelsey will graduate from Coastal Carolina in May of 2010 with high honors in biology, as she currently holds a cumulative GPA of 3.85. Birnbaum has been a mainstay in the right side of the Coastal Carolina infield for the past three seasons, starting 123 games at first base in her career. The Chino Hills, California native enters today’s contests with a career-high .287 batting average, and has set career-highs in runs and doubles in her senior campaign. Birnbaum will also go down in the Coastal Carolina record books as one of the top defensive players in program history, as the first baseman holds a career fielding percentage of .975, and has committed only 12 errors in over 600 opportunities at first base in her tenure. Birnbaum, who will graduate in May of 2010, has also excelled in the classroom in her time at Coastal Carolina, as she holds a 3.986 GPA in health promotions.
CHANTS HEAD TO TOURNAMENT MINUS PITCHING COACH: The Chants will be missing a vital part of their coaching staff for the Big South Tournament, as pitching coach Megan Matthews Buning will not make the trip. Even though she has had 17 daughters to take care of this season, she will be soon taking care of her own, as she is eight months pregnant. The former South Carolina All-American pitcher is expecting a baby girl in early June.
EVANS SOLIDIFIES BID FOR ALL-CONFERENCE NOD WITH OUTSTANDING WEEKEND AT THE PLATE: Coastal Carolina’s leading hitter, sophomore third-baseman Michelle Evans solidified her bid for All-Conference honors with another solid series at the plate for the Chants. The Upland, Calif. native was 5-for-11 at the plate in the series, with five hits in total including a home run and pair of doubles. She drove in three runs and scored four en route to racking up 10 total bases. She is now hitting a cool .340 that ranks ninth in the Big South, and is hitting .375 in Big South play.
PISONE CONTINUES OFFENSIVE PROJECTION: Sophomore Ashley Pisone has continued her run production numbers this season. Even though she holds the lowest batting average of any Chanticleer regular this season (.208), she still is tied for the team lead in home runs with four and leads the squad with 21 RBI on the season. She hit her most recent home run in game three of the Liberty series, an opposite field shot that sailed over the right field fence.