RADFORD, Va. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - The Coastal Carolina softball team won four-straight games after falling to Charleston Southern during the second day of the tournament to take the 2012 Big South Softball Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting and Brookwood Farms Barbeque. The Chanticleers defeated Charleston Southern 4-1 on Sunday afternoon at the Radford Softball Field in Radford, Va.
Coastal improves to 43-18 on the year, while Charleston Southern ends its season at 33-26. Coastal has played in the championship game of the Big South Tournament 12 times and has won the event six times. The Chanticleers return to the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2006. Coastal will be playing in its fifth NCAA Tournament in program history.
Charleston Southern has played in the Big South tournament championship game only one other time, which was in 1988, the second year of the Big South Conference.
Charleston Southern got the scoring started in the top of the first inning when Kristin Kelleher, the second batter for the Buccaneers, hit her second home run of the season to center field. Both of her home runs have come in the Big South Tournament. Jessica Brock picked up the only other hit for the Buccaneers in the top of the inning, hitting a single to right center.
Coastal responded in the bottom of the first, as Sarah Maples picked up a single to the short stop, who was unable to get a hold of the ball to make the play at first. Brooke Donovan then hit a sacrifice bunt to move Maples to second. Kory Hayden, the third batter for the Chants, was walked. Maples advanced home during Kiana Quolas at bat, as the third baseman recorded an error. Chelsea Pineda loaded the bases after she was walked, but Charleston Southern picked up the final out during the Chants next at bat by recording a strike out.
The Chanticleers earned the three and out against the Buccaneers in the top of the second. Coastal took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the second when Jessie Winans advanced home on a fielder's choice in a wild play during Hayden's at bat, which ended with a double play to take the game to the third. Donovan and Hayden were both out on the play.
In the third inning, Coastal extended its lead to two when Nicole Saggiomo scored on an error by the right fielder during Stacy Snellings at-bat. Snellings made it to third on a single to right field by Jazmin Daigle, but the Chanticleers were unable to score their fourth run of the game before Charleston Southern picked up the third out.
Ashley Bagwell earned her 10th strikeout of the game in the fourth inning, as Charleston Southern went three and out. The Chants scored their fourth run in four innings to go ahead 4-1. Donovan hit a double to right field to start off things for Coastal. Hayden was walked before Quolas hit a single to center field, which allowed Donovan to score. The Buccaneers closed out the inning by recording their second double play of the game.
During the final three innings of play Charleston Southern didn't record a hit. Coastal had a couple of opportunities to score, but the Buccaneers held their ground. In the fifth inning Winans had an opportunity to score after reaching base on a fielders choice, before stealing second and then advancing to third on Maples single to the left side, but she was left stranded on third. Quolas reached third base in the sixth inning on a double to right center and then advanced to third when Charleston Southern recorded its third error of the game during Cacia Pierre's at-bat.
Maples ended the game with three hits and one run in four at bats, along with a team high two assists. Pierre posted one run and one RBI in three at bats. Donovan had one hit and one run in two at-bats, while being walked once. Quolas tallied two hits in three at-bats and was walked once. Pineda tied her season high of 13 putouts in the victory.
Bagwell pitched a complete game, tying her career-high of 13 strikeouts, while not giving up a walk and allowing just three hits in 25 batters faced.
Kelleher finished the game with one hit, one run and one RBI in two at bats. Jessica Brock tallied two hits in three at bats. Melanie Stickney posted a team high six putouts. Stephanie Sbardella recorded three assists on the afternoon.
Morgan Dowdy took the loss Charleston Southern following six innings pitched, in which she struck out five, walked six and allowed nine hits in 34 batters faced.
Maples, Bagwell, Quolas and Donovan were named to the All-Tournament Team for Coastal Carolina and Maples was selected as the tournament MVP.
The 2012 NCAA Softball Selection Show will take place tonight at 10:00pm on ESPNU.
Coastal Carolina Head Coach Kelley Green
"We showed a lot of resilience, it was devastating to lose that second game and we knew we had a hard road to get back to the championship. Give credit to our players, everyone stayed very focused and determined to make it to the championship game. We played better than ever after that loss. We stuck to our game plan and everyone played aggressive and gritty and did whatever they could to help us win."
"I'm really happy for our team and extremely pleased for our seniors, it couldn't have happened to a better group. They played a huge part in us winning the championship. Sarah Maples winning the tournament MVP was phenomenal, her hitting was exceptional during the tournament. Our pitching was also great after the loss. Ever since the loss we needed to bring all aspects of our game and we did."