No. 4 seed Liberty nearly overcame a 7-0, fifth-inning deficit to No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina, as a Madison Kotchey grand slam ignited a Lady Flames rally. However, Liberty fell just short, as the Chanticleers held on for a 7-5 victory in an elimination game on day two at the 2015 Big South Softball Championship.
With the win, Coastal (33-23) advances to the semifinal round, where the Chanticleers will face No. 1 seed Longwood tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. The Lady Flames' season ends at 29-30. Liberty's 18-win improvement was the second-best year-to-year improvement in program history. Coastal Carolina holds a 10-7 record against Liberty in conference tournament games.
The Chanticleers held a slight, 8-7, edge in hits, and Coastal took advantage of four Lady Flames errors. Liberty left 10 runners on base, compared to six for Coastal Carolina.
Coastal Carolina's Kory Hayden went 2-for-4 with a grand slam and four RBI, while Amanda Daneker batted 2-for-3 with two RBI. Bri Chiusano hit 2-for-4 with a stolen base and two runs scored.
For Liberty, Alexia Taylor went 2-for-3, good for her 21st multiple-hit game this season. Kotchey batted 1-for-2 with a grand slam home run. Mickey Loveridge went 1-for-3 with a double.
Kiana Quolas (18-11) allowed five runs on seven hits, walking six and striking out three in the complete-game victory.
Abby Tincher (3-8) drew the loss, yielding three runs (one earned) on four hits in 2 2/3 innings. Kenzie Friesen allowed three runs (two earned) on two hits while walking one. Chandler Ball pitched the final 2 2/3 innings, giving up one run on two hits with two strikeouts and one walk.
Taylor and Tori Zavodny drew back-to-back walks to lead off the game. Megan Robinson moved both runners ahead with a sacrifice bunt. Quolas got out of the jam with a pair of groundouts.
The Chanticleers loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the first, aided by two errors. Morgan Noad then hit a sacrifice fly for Coastal's first run and Daneker followed with an RBI single to left. Tincher retired the next two batters, keeping the score at 2-0 through one frame.
With the league's leading basestealer on first base, Kelby Allen caught Chiusano attempting to steal second to end a scoreless second inning.
Zavodny singled on the infield with one out in the top of the third. Kotchey drew a two-out walk before Allen grounded to second to end the scoring chance.
Coastal staged a two-out rally to extend its lead in the third stanza. Noad doubled to right center, and Daneker plated her with a single to left to make it 3-0. Friesen then entered the circle in relief of Tincher to record the final out.
Loveridge drew a walk to lead off the fourth inning. A Jamie Crisp groundout sent Katie Han to second. Lawrence then flied out to center for the third out.
Ball came on in relief of Friesen with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth. Hayden launched a grand slam to left center, boosting the Chanticleers' lead to 7-0.
Liberty filled the bases with nobody out to open the fifth stanza before Kotchey blasted a grand slam to right center, drawing Liberty to within 7-4. Loveridge hit a one-out double down the third base line. Quolas retired the next two Lady Flames to limit further damage.
Ball worked around a leadoff walk to Sara Rasley, holding Coastal scoreless in the fifth.
Liberty continued its comeback in the sixth. Lawrence singled to lead off, and went to second on a wild pitch. Taylor singled and advanced to second on a throw home. Robinson then hit an RBI groundout. After a walk to Kotchey, Allen grounded out to end the rally.
The Lady Flames received late life in the top of the seventh. Han reached on a fielding error, and Kassidy McCoy hit a two-out single. With Taylor up to bat, pinch runner Jessica Cicerchia was caught stealing for the game-ending out.