Softball Win Pair, Advance In Big South Championships
The two teams combined for just six hits, but it was just one that decided the game as a solo homer by Allison Cantrell in the fourth inning gave fourth-seeded Coastal Carolina a 1-0 victory over sixth-seeded Liberty, Friday afternoon, in Game 9 of the 2005 Big South Softball Championship.
The game remained scoreless until bottom of the fourth inning as Cantrell connected on a 3-2 pitch to lead off the fourth inning, sending a solo homer over the fence in straightaway center field, accounting for her first of the season, giving Coastal Carolina (24-24) the only run of the contest.
Liberty (22-32) had two scoring opportunities in the contest as Beth Hensley led off the fourth inning with a single to left field and advanced to second on a throwing error by Delane Grainger on the throw back into the infield. Hensley advanced to second on a pop-up by Ashley Williams, while Shannon McKain followed with an infield single, but Meagan Johnson got Tiffany Johnson to groundout and Cassie Campbell to strikeout, stranding two runners in scoring position.
In the following inning, Whitney Nixon reached base on a fielding error by Cantrell, while pinch runner Leanne Long advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Erika Rasmussen and to third on a groundout by Sarah Love. After an intentional walk was issued to Big South Player of the Year Jessica Moore, who hit a two-run game winning homer in Libertys earlier win over fifth-seeded Birmingham-Southern, Hensley attempted to lay down a bunt, but the outfielder dropped the bunt attempt just in front of the plate, leaving an easy play for Kelly Feely as the catcher was able to tag Long out charging from third base.
Offensively, Liberty was led by Hensley and McKaiin finished the contest 1-for-3, while Rasmussen was 1-for-1 with a sacrifice bunt. Coastal Carolinas Cantrell was 1-for-2 with a game-winning homer, while Ashley Gerdts was 1-for-2 and Sara Hostletler was 1-for-3 with a double.
Meagan Johnson picked up her second victory of the afternoon as she scattered three hits over seven innings of action, striking out eight batters to raise her record to 9-4 on the season. Terra Lowe was the tough luck loser as she allowed three hits and one run in her career-best 13th complete game.
With the victory, fourth-seeded Coastal Carolina advances to the final day of action of the 2005 Big South Softball Championship as they will face the loser of the top-seeded Winthrop and third-seeded Texas A&M Corpus Christi game, which is being played tonight at 7:15 p.m., in Game 11 of the tournament on Saturday at 1 p.m. with a bid to the championship game on the line.
Coastal Carolina Head Coach Jess Dannelly:
I decided to use Meagen in the second game to keep her loose. I told her we need four or five innings out of her, but she was pitching well, so we stayed with her and she kept getting better. We played better today and look to going back to battle tomorrow.
Liberty Head Coach Paul Wetmore:
One pitch, one hit, one game. Thats what it was. Coastal Carolina played a great game and we couldnt cash in on our opportunities. We had a great season with a young team who will all be back next year. We will bring our experience from this year into next year and the future looks bright.
Earlier in the day, fourth-seeded Coastal Carolina used a 12-hit attack and scored six unanswered runs to defeat second-seeded Radford, 6-3, in Game Seven of the Big South Softball Championship. With the victory, the Lady Chanticleers advance to Game Nine and will face Liberty in an elimination game at approximately 5:30 pm. The Highlanders season ends at 39-25.
Coastal Carolina trailed 3-0 entering the fourth inning and posted a four spot to take the lead for good and added single runs in the fourth and sixth innings to cushion its lead. Sara Hostetler, Allison Cantrell and Kimberly Cillis each had two hits for the Lady Chants, while Meagen Johnson settled down after allowing a three-run home run in the third to earn the victory.
Johnson allowed just five hits, one after the round tripper, struck out seven and walked two to improve to 8-4 on the season. RUs Breanna Felix suffered the loss, allowing six runs on 10 hits, striking out five and walking two in 5.2 innings. Ashley Taylor tossed 1.1 innings of shutout relief, striking out one and giving up two hits.
Radford took the lead initially after registering a two-out, three-run rally in the third. Ashley Carlson singled off Johnson and moved to third on Ashley Smiths single off the glove off a diving Katey Allen in center. Taylor stepped up and hit a three-run home run just over the leftfield fence, giving RU a 3-0 lead.
Coastal Carolina responded with four runs top of the fourth. Kelly Feely blasted a game-tying three-run round tripper to left center with one out, scoring Sara Hostetler and pinch runner Carla Hood. After a single and a fielders choice, Allen tripled home Danyelle Gerdts with the go ahead run.
The Lady Chants added single runs in the fourth and sixth innings. In the fourth, Delaine Grainger led off with an infield single and was sacrificed to second. Cantrell doubled off the top of the fence to score Grainger. With two outs and the bases loaded, Hostetler poked a single to right scoring Allen and giving CCU a 6-3 lead.
Radford Head Coach Amy Kvilhaug:
Its hard to explain. I dont think Bre had her A game. We hit some very hard shots. We need get things going in more than just one inning. I give credit to Coastal, they wanted it more today.
Coastal Carolina Head Coach Jess Dannelly:
We finally hit the ball. Meagen did a great job pitching and Feely hit a clutch home run and gave us a chance to win the game. We finally put it together in the late going.