With a 4-1 start that has included a pair of impressive blowout wins and a pair of walk-offs in extra innings against good competition, the Coastal Carolina baseball team is showing what coach Gary Gilmore suspected through the offseason and three full weeks of practices – this team might be capable of some big things this season.
Coastal has opened 2018 with a 17-2 win over Virginia Tech, 13-0 blowout of rival College of Charleston on the road Wednesday, and walk-offs in the 10th inning against both Kansas State and an Oklahoma team ranked in the top 20 in the nation in Perfect Game’s preseason top 25 rankings.
The Chanticleers’ only loss is a one-run decision to Indiana, another team ranked in the top 20.
“I think [the pitching staff] has a chance to be pretty good. I’m excited,” said Gilmore, who led the Chants to the NCAA national championship in 2016. “I honestly think the lineup has a chance to be really good before it’s over with, too, once we get some at-bats under some guys.
“We’re a long way from Omaha, but it’s a talented team and as long as they continue to play really hard and compete, we’ll be okay. We’ll surprise a few people.”
The Chants have a potential ace in junior Jason Bilous, whose stuff on the mound could land him in the top few rounds of the Major League Baseball draft by season’s end, and an experienced and solid No. 2 in senior Zack Hopeck, who allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out seven in 6 1/3 innings against Oklahoma. Sophomore Anthony Veneziano is in his second year as a starter.
The Chants are without talented relievers Bobby Holmes and Austin Kitchen due to injuries this year, so the bullpen is young but also has a number of lively arms, including freshmen Shaddon Peavyhouse and Zach McCambley and junior Scott Kobos, who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians last year but opted to play at CCU this season.
Offensively, Kieton Rivers, Cory Wood, freshman Parker Chavers and senior Kevin Woodall Jr. of Georgetown are all batting better than .360, and Woodall already has three home runs and 11 RBI after leading the Sun Belt Conference in both categories last year.
Veterans Seth Lancaster and Matt Beaird figure to be consistent all season long, as well.
“It’s going to be a team of growth all year long. If it can just incrementally move forward and move forward and move forward, it’s a very talented team even with the injuries,” Gilmore said. “ … We knew Bobby Holmes was out, but losing Kitchen was a huge piece. He’s a 75-inning, 80-inning guy for us this year. That’s a lot of innings that other younger players are going to have to eat up. If we can survive the first 30 days, and players like those two guys (Peavyhouse and McCambley) get [several] outings or whatever, all of a sudden this team will have a chance.”
“We’ve got a chance to be okay.”
Football adds coach
Coastal Carolina head football coach Joe Moglia has added Newland Isaac, who has coached alongside CCU associate head coach and offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell for eight years, as an assistant coach.
He will coach the Chanticleer running backs and fills an opening on the staff left by Nick Jones, who recently accepted a job as assistant football coach at Air Force Academy.
Isaac spent last season as assistant head coach/offensive coordinator at Albany State, but previously worked with Chadwell at Charleston Southern, Delta State and North Greenville.
Isaac helped the Albany State finish the 2017 season ranked first in the SIAC in scoring, passing and red zone offense while ranking second in both rushing and total offense. Three Golden Rams were named SIAC all-conference on offense while lineman Jamie Glenn added all-region honors.
This past month, Isaac was selected to participate in the 2018 NCAA-NFL Coaches Academy which provides current, full-time college football coaches at NCAA member schools and some former NFL athletes the opportunity to expand their knowledge and insight into the world of college coaching.
Chants take titles
Led by wins from Aynslee van Graan and Annie Bothma, the Coastal women’s indoor track and field team finished seventh in the Sun Belt Championships on Tuesday at the at Birmingham CrossPlex in Alabama.
van Graan won the mile run with a school record and personal best time of 4:50.32, while Bothma repeated as the 5000-meter champion with her time of 17:05.45.
In addition, the 4x400 relay team of Jonnay Anthony, Tiffany Harris, Erica Evans and Hesmari Coetzee finished in sixth in 3:52.06, Evans finished in fifth in the pentathlon, and Courtney Lawson placed 13th in the triple jump with a leap of 37 feet, 5.75 inches.
Prior to winning a Sun Belt championship, van Graan was tabbed the Sun Belt Women’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Week, the first for the Chanticleers this season.
Competing for the first time since the 2017 outdoor season, van Graan finished first in the one mile run at the VMI Winter Relays on Feb. 9 in Lexington, Va. in a time of 4:55.33, which was the top time in the Sun Belt.
Arkansas State finished atop the eight-team men’s field and Texas State finished atop the 12-team women’s field to capture conference team titles.
Sun Belt individuals who are eligible will be preparing for the 2018 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships from March 8-9 in College Station, Texas.
Scoring 40 points will get you noticed, and for the third time this season the Sun Belt Conference named Jas Adams its Player of the Week as CCU’s only senior makes her push for the conference’s player of the year honor.
Adams became just the second player in Coastal Carolina women’s basketball history to reach 40 points in game, while also setting the HTC Center single-game scoring record. The senior guard also hauled in 11 rebounds for her second double-double season. Adams followed with 19 points and eight rebounds against South Alabama to help the Chants extend their winning streak to three games and average 29.5 points and 9.5 rebounds for the week. She regained the lead in the Sun Belt’s scoring race at 18.7 points per game.
The CCU men and women play their final three regular season games on the road through March 3. Both teams are likely to start the Sun Belt Conference Championship on their respective opening days of competition at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, as the top four teams get byes into the second round.
The men (12-16) are 10th in the 12-team conference at 6-9 and can get to 9-9 with three wins, and the women (14-12) are eighth at 8-7 and will need to improve their play on the road in order to move up in the standings. The women are 1-5 on the road and 0-3 at neutral sites this year.
With the March Madness approaching, conference-leading Louisiana-Lafayette (23-4, 13-1) has hope that it could receive an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament if it doesn’t win the conference tournament.
The Ragin Cajuns are ranked second behind Gonzaga, which received all 31 first-place votes, in this week’s CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 that was released on Monday. Georgia State (19-8, 10-4) and Texas-Arlington (16-12, 7-8) were among the teams receiving votes outside the top 25. SBNation’s Mid-Major Power Rankings, which consider more conferences mid-majors, has Louisiana ranked 16th.