CONWAY — The Coastal Carolina softball team was geared up to start its season Saturday.
And the Chanticleers proved they were ready.
Kory Hayden hit two home runs and starter Kiana Quolas allowed just one run over six innings as Coastal Carolina dominated College of Charleston 9-1 in six innings.
It was a little shaky at first, though.
Quolas battled out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the first inning to jump-start what became a dominant day for the Chants, who drew first blood in the bottom of the frame.
“Very happy with the win. The team came out and played but [we had] just first-game jitters a little bit,” Chanticleers coach Kelley Green said. “You just never know how they’re going to show up. I was very proud after that rusty first inning; [Quolas] got out of it. From then on, all the momentum was in our favor. That was a huge inning for us to get out of a bases-loaded jam early on and for us to come out and score first and set the tone was great. I’m really happy with the win.”
Bri Chisuano stole third base and scored on an error by Cougars shortstop Lizzy Vaughn to give Coastal a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Then, Hayden hit a solo home run to put the Chanticleers up by two runs through an inning.
Coastal tacked on a run in the third on Hayden’s second home run of the night to give the Chanticleers a 3-0 lead.
“Scoring first is great,” said Green, whose team put the game away in a four-run sixth inning. “We got that first run across with Bri showing her speed. But every run is important. [College of Charleston] can hit the ball really well and they can tie it up in a hurry. Two runs wasn’t enough and we need more than that and they showed that.”
Quolas – who was voted Big South Preseason Pitcher of the Year – struck out seven, walked two and scattered three hits in six innings and picked up the win.
“She did awesome,” Green said. “She got out of that first-inning jam and after that she got command of her pitches and felt more comfortable out there. I’m not sure what the problem was in the first inning but she got out of it and that’s a big part of her game – staying composed under pressure situations. She did well.”
College of Charleston scored its only run in the fourth inning on a home run by Rebecca Mueller. Cougars starter Hope Klicker received the loss as she allowed five earned runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five in 4 2/3 innings.
The squads meet again Sunday as the Chanticleers host the Cougars at 1 p.m.
“They’re absolutely a good team; they beat us twice last year,” Green said of College of Charleston. “They’re going to come back here tomorrow a lot stronger and we’re going to do our best to prepare for that.”
Contact MAX MCKINNON at 626-0302.