Power Surge Sends Bucs into BSC SemisMay 11, 2012
by CSU Sports Information
RADFORD, Va. – Megan Lombard, Jana Matthews, and Kristin Kelleher homered to back a strong start from Morgan Dowdy as Charleston Southern advanced to the Big South Softball Championship Semifinals with a 5-2 win over No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina at Radford Softball Field on Friday morning.
The victory earns CSU (32-24) a date with No. 5 Gardner-Webb on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. With the triumph, the Bucs also matched a single-season program record with 32 wins. After hitting 19 home runs in 54 regular season games, the Bucs have smashed nine over two tournament contests.
Dowdy (19-12) and Quolas (23-9) squared off in the circle for the third time this year, and both were sharp in the early going. Quolas set down CSU 1-2-3 in the first and second innings, while Dowdy worked around a walk in the first, and struck out a pair to strand runners at second and third in the second.
The Bucs got the scoring started in the third, though, as they played long ball yet again. Melissa Adams worked a walk out of the number eight spot, and still stood at first after Courtney Konyk was caught looking at a called strike three. Lombard then stepped to the plate, and cracked a long home run for the second time in as many days, sending a long drive over the left-center field fence for her seventh homer of the year and a 2-0 CSU lead.
Coastal (39-18) threatened to get a run back in the bottom half of the third, but Dowdy displayed her resolve to remain unscathed. Sarah Maples stroked a leadoff single to start the frame for the Chanticleers, and eventually found herself only 60 feet away from the plate with one out following a wild pitch and a grounder to the right side of the infield. Dowdy recovered to strike out Coastal slugger Kory Hayden, however, and then induced a groundout from Quolas to keep the Bucs in front, 2-0.
Dowdy received some help from her defense to quell a potential Coastal rally in the fourth, as Jessica Brock picked off a line drive and fired to Linzy Rother at first base to double off Chelsea Pineda, who had started the inning with a single.
Another scoring chance went by the wayside for Coastal in the fifth, as Dowdy continued her penchant for working out of jams. Dowdy quickly notched the first two outs of the inning, but Maples and Brooke Donovan followed with singles, and Kory Hayden walked, to load the bases for Quolas. Dowdy’s counterpart in the circle forced a 3-1 count and slapped a sharp grounder on that offering, but Dowdy reached down to her left to snare it and throw to first for the final out of the frame.
Matthews then started the top of the 6th with a bang, hammering her third homer of the tournament with a no-doubter clear of the left-center field wall to push the CSU advantage to 3-0.
The Chanticleers had yet another scoring chance go by the wayside in the last of the sixth, as Dowdy wiggled her way out of the second bases loaded predicament of the morning. A single, a fielder’s choice, and a pair of walks filled the sacks with two outs and brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Maples. Dowdy fell behind 1-0, but got Maples to sky out to Adams in center field, maintaining the Bucs’ 3-0 cushion.
CSU tacked on two insurance runs in the top of the seventh, courtesy of its third round tripper of the day and ninth of the tourney. Lombard kept the inning alive with a two-out single through the middle and Kelleher provided the punch, powering her first home run of the season over the right field fence to extend the Bucs’ advantage to 5-0.
Coastal showcased its own power to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh, as Hayden ripped a double to the gap in left-center in front of Quolas, who connected for a towering two-run homer over the center field wall. CSU Head Coach Shane Winkler then called on Linzy Rother from the bullpen, and the junior from Long Beach, California, secured a strikeout and a pop up to nail down her first save of the year and cement the 5-2 victory.
Dowdy allowed the two runs on seven hits and six walks over 6.1 innings, while striking out four. She stranded ten Coastal runners on base through the opening six frames, including seven in scoring position. CSU’s berth in the semifinals is its first since 2009, which was Winkler’s inaugural season at the helm.
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