With two home runs in a doubleheader Wednesday, Coastal Carolina senior Morgan Noad slugged her way to a prominent place in the Big South softball record book as the conference’s all-time home run leader.
And that mark will only become even more impressive if she continues producing over the rest of the season at the pace she’s maintained throughout her career, but while Noad may be making it all look easy she insists she never thought such a feat would be within reach during her time with the Chanticleers.
“I think back to freshman year and I would have never guessed I’d be doing something like this, beating Megan and Kory. They’re both great hitters,” she said.
Noad passed former teammate Kory Hayden’s program record of 61 career home runs earlier this season before passing former Longwood slugger Megan Baltzell this week, matching her at 67 homers in the first game of a doubleheader sweep Wednesday with College of Charleston before breaking the record with her 68th in the second game.
“It’s a huge deal. With the long history and tradition of our program as it is to have someone come in and have the career she has and say it’s the best is pretty special,” Coastal Carolina softball coach Kelley Green said.
“The home run record, I think, in all of sports is probably one of the most exciting and talked about records, whether it be baseball or softball. It’s great to have it in our program, and it’s a great way to finish our last year in the Big South.”
Noad, the team’s senior catcher, is batting .386 with 16 homers and 49 RBIs through 41 games this season for the Chants (22-19).
She says she did her best to keep attention off the record chase, but her teammates had embraced the pursuit and celebrated it as a team accomplishment when she made it official.
“The kids all got down on their knees at home plate and she was rounding the bases with a big smile,” Green said. “She probably ran the bases faster than I’ve ever seen her run on a home run. As she was rounding third, I had tears in my eyes excited for her.”
Along with excitement, Noad admitted she felt some relief to have it behind her now.
“Yeah,” she said with a laugh. “It was fun chasing it, which was so fun in the moment, but I’m happy it’s kind of off my shoulders and now I can keep hitting them and hopefully blow past it.”
Men’s tennis perfect in the Big South
For the third time in program history, the Coastal Carolina men’s tennis team ran through the Big South schedule unbeaten while finishing off an 8-0 regular-season conference record with a 6-1 win over Liberty on Wednesday.
These Chants, who are 18-3 overall, join the 1994 (9-0) and 2013 (8-0) teams as the only in program history to accomplish the feat.
And what perhaps makes it even more special is that was far from a given when this season started.
“The best way to put it is I don’t know if I’ve ever been as proud as a coach as I am right now of this team,” coach Chris Powers said. “Simply because, of course we’ve got good players, but we didn’t do it on talent – we did it on hard work, character and relentlessness. These guys refuse to quit on the tennis court. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.”
There’s a stat Powers is particularly proud of this season, noting that when the Chants have lost the first set and come back to win the next one they are then 22-2 in those decisive third sets.
“That’s amazing,” he said. “There’s no other way to put it. These guys just find the way to get it done, and they’ve done it all year.”
Junior Jabor Al-Mutawa is 15-5 for the Chants this season, including an 8-5 mark at No. 1 singles and a 7-0 record at No. 2 singles. Junior Vuk Velickovic is 17-4 overall with a 5-2 mark at No. 1 singles and a 12-2 record at the No. 2 spot. And there have been plenty of other contributors, including senior Pedro Leme (12-5, mostly at No. 3), junior Sebastian Schneider (12-4, mostly playing at the No. 4 spot), senior Nic Planchard (10-3 at No. 5/6), freshman Luiz Faria (8-2 mostly at No. 6) and senior Rick Timmerman (8-4 mostly at No. 5).
Powers said Leme, a transfer from Pepperdine before last season, has been an especially pleasant surprise.
“Last season he struggled down in the lineup and I think he had a losing record,” he said. “We start the season holding each other accountable and building a culture of respect and I think it had a really positive effect on him, and his tennis spring-boarded off of us setting a new culture. He’s the player that I thought he always would be.”
The next step for the Chants is the Big South tournament starting Wednesday in Lynchburg, Va., where a championship would earn their spot in the NCAA tournament field.
“The players get focused on a lot of things, on wanting to get nationally ranked, on beating a ranked player. Doing it as long as I have, my sole goal is to hopefully set the stage to get back to the dance,” Powers said. “That’s all I want. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way they performed and had such a great regular season, but the ultimately goal is always to get back to the NCAA tournament.”
Elsewhere around campus
▪ The Big South women’s golf tournament returns to DeBordieu Club in Georgetown for a second straight year Monday through Wednesday. Coastal Carolina will be looking to repeat as champions while senior Lena Schaeffner looks to defend her individual conference championship after shooting a two-round score of 147 last year.
Schaeffner, who has a stroke average of 73.75 this season with three top-10 finishes (including two top-5s) in nine events, will face a strong challenge from one of her own teammates. Sophomore Malene Krolboll Hansen has a stroke average of 73.57 this season and also have three top-10s with two top-5s in nine events.
▪ The women’s tennis team wraps up the regular season Sunday at 11 a.m. with a home match against Emory. The Chants are 17-5 overall and 7-2 in the Big South with the conference tournament starting next Friday in Lynchburg, Va.
▪ The Coastal Carolina men’s golf team has one more tournament before the Big South championship as it heads to Spartanburg for the Coca-Cola Wofford Invite on Monday and Tuesday.
▪ The women’s lacross team was 6-5 entering play Saturday night and returns to action next Saturday with a home game against Longwood at 2 p.m. inside Brooks Stadium.
▪ The Chants’ new beach volleyball team is off to a 2-6 start in its inaugural season. All of the team’s matches are on the road this season.