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Coastal Carolina women's golf team covets NCAA postseason berth after 15-stroke win

Coastal Carolina senior Malene Krolboll Hansen won her third career individual title Tuesday, sharing medalist honors with freshman teammate Frantiska Lunackova at 3-under 213 in the Charleston Invitational at RiverTowne Country Club in Mount Pleasant.
Coastal Carolina senior Malene Krolboll Hansen won her third career individual title Tuesday, sharing medalist honors with freshman teammate Frantiska Lunackova at 3-under 213 in the Charleston Invitational at RiverTowne Country Club in Mount Pleasant. submitted photo

For the third time this season, the Coastal Carolina women’s golf team shot a school-record total of 9-under 855 over 54 holes.

For the first time, it resulted in a win.

The Chants finished their 2017-18 regular season with a dominant 15-shot victory Tuesday in the Charleston Invitational co-hosted by College of Charleston and Charleston Southern at RiverTowne Country Club in Mount Pleasant.

The two teams in the tournament ranked in the top 50 by Golfstat.com, No. 35 Campbell and No. 47 East Carolina, finished second and tied for third – East Carolina finishing 27 shots back.

“That was fun,” CCU coach Katie Quinney said. “East Carolina got us in Pinehurst, and Campbell is not really a rival anymore with different conferences, there’s still a lot of blood there. It’s always good to get them.”

Will the late win be enough for Coastal to earn an NCAA regional berth without winning the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Championship at Raven Golf Club at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in Florida? It moved the Chants from 56th to 53rd in the Golfstat rankings.

“It will be really close,” Quinney said. “[56th] would put us around last the team in or first team out. We certainly don’t want to leave it up to chance.”

Coastal’s final-round 6-under 282 Tuesday tied the second-lowest round in program history, matching the second round of the Pinehurst Challenge in October.

Three of CCU’s five players turned in under-par scores in the final round, and senior Malene Krolboll Hansen of Denmark and freshman Frantiska Lunackova of Czech Republic tied for the individual title with 3-under 213s. The win is the third of Hansen’s career and first for Lunackova, whose score matched her career best in the Pinehurst Challenge.

Her older sister, junior Marie Lunackova, matched a career-best with a tie for third a shot back at 2-under 214, and junior Sena Ersoy of Turkey, the reigning junior college national champion, shot her second 69 in two weeks in the final round to tie for eighth at 1-over 217.

“Really everybody has stepped up, that’s what’s been so fun about this year,” Quinney said.

This spring, Coastal has a pair of third-place finishes in events hosted by Florida State and Miami, and finishes of 10th and fifth in the two events leading up to its win.

“The Florida State and Miami finishes felt like wins even though they weren’t because we beat so many Power Five [conference] teams,” Quinney said. “This team I have just so much confidence in. They just need a chance to get into regionals and anything can happen. I think we can compete with anyone in the country right now.”

In the fall, the Chants had a runner-up finish in the Pinehurst Challenge and seventh-place finish in the Ladies Fall Intercollegiate at Atlanta Athletic Club to go along with a pair of finishes outside the top 10. The other 855s came in Pinehurst and at Florida State.

The Chants leave next Friday for the Sun Belt tournament, where they will likely be the favorite to earn the conference’s automatic NCAA berth.

“I like the golf course and it’s tough enough there should be some separation,” said Quinney, who played Raven Golf Club in three tournaments when she was a player on the Florida State women’s team. “We should be ready to go and confident now.”

Big weekend ahead

It shouldn’t take Coastal’s baseball team long to move on from its disappointing 6-1 loss at Clemson on Tuesday night, in which the Chanticleers had just three hits.

Coastal has a key Sun Belt Conference series this weekend against South Alabama at Springs Brooks Stadium that could be a significant factor in determining the conference’s East Division and possibly overall regular season champion.

South Alabama is the reigning Sun Belt tournament champion – which made it the lone team from the conference to participate in an NCAA regional – and was picked ahead of the Chants to win the East Division.

Coastal (21-10) is off to an 8-1 conference start with three-game sweeps of Arkansas State and Texas State, and a 2-1 series win last weekend at Georgia Southern.

South Alabama (16-11) is coming off a home sweep of Appalachian State last weekend to improve to 6-2 in the conference, with one cancellation.

The games are scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday – which should give fans an opportunity to catch the baseball game and Coastal’s spring football game at 8 p.m. at Brooks Stadium – 2 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

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Coastal Carolina has lost a few pitchers to injury this season, though Jason Bilous (pictured) has been one of the more consistent performers on the mound, going 7-2 with a 3.08 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews.com

Coastal has ridden one of the nation’s top offenses to a No. 18 national ranking by Baseball America.

Entering Tuesday’s game, Coastal led the NCAA with 80 doubles and also ranked second nationally both with 182 walks drawn and 263 runs scored, ranked fourth in scoring at 8.8 runs per game, eighth in hits with 307 and home runs with 41, and ninth in slugging percentage at .501 and one-base percentage at .411.

Individually, senior infielder Seth Lancaster of Hanahan ranked third nationally with 41 runs scored, fourth with 14 doubles and fifth with 28 walks drawn. Senior first baseman Kevin Woodall Jr. of Georgetown ranked fifth in both home runs with 12 and RBI with 38.

The offense didn’t travel to Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, however.

Freshman Spencer Strider held the Chants hitless through six innings and Clemson avenged a March 20 walk-off loss on Lee Sponseller’s ninth-inning grand slam in the first game of a home-and-home series that is expected to continue for the coming years between the baseball powers at opposite ends of the state.

Clemson got four home runs Tuesday from Chris Williams, Jordan Greene, Logan Davidson and Grayson Byrd, and five Coastal pitchers walked nine batters, allowing Clemson to score its six runs on six hits.

Coastal is 10-45 all-time against the eighth-ranked Tigers (23-6) and fell to 5-34 at Clemson. The Chants have been more competitive in recent years against the Tigers, splitting the past four games and going 4-7 in the past 11 games since 2010.

Clemson was coming off a three-game sweep of Boston College in an ACC series, and the Chants lost their second straight after taking two of three from Georgia Southern over the weekend.

Tuesday’s loss was just the third of Coastal’s 10 this season that came by more than two runs.

Coastal left the bases loaded in a ninth inning that featured a leadoff double by Cory Wood, walk by Lancaster and two-out hit-by-pitch by Sponseller. Kieton Rivers, who knocked in CCU’s only run, grounded out to end the game.

Coastal got two of its three hits and scored its lone run in the seventh on Rivers’ RBI single that scored Zach Biermann, who had walked.

But the inning could have been more damaging had Sponseller not run into an out following his single to right field, as he was caught between first and second with Biermann on second base and was thrown out. Rivers was also caught stealing to end the inning.

Freshman Shaddon Peavyhouse (1-3) made his first career start and went three innings, allowing just one run and one hit – a leadoff home run in the second inning by Williams – and four walks with two strikeouts.

Freshman lefty Trevor Damron relieved in the fourth and gave up back-to-back home runs to left field, a two-run homer Greene out of the No. 9 spot following a walk, and solo shot by Davidson. The Tigers held a 4-0 lead with just three hits.

Clemson added two runs in the seventh to answer Coastal’s run on Byrd’s homer and an RBI double by Seth Beer.

Patrick Orlando, a sophomore at CCU who played at Carolina Forest High, entered with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh and got a fly out to end the inning, and didn't allow a baserunner in 1 1/3 innings. Conway High product and sophomore lefty Jay Causey also pitched well, throwing 1 2/3 innings without allowing a hit while striking out two.

The Devils went down to Coastal

In front of the largest home crowd of the season of 600-plus, the Coastal women’s softball team (18-20) defeated ACC foe Duke 3-1 Wednesday at the CCU Softball Stadium. The Blue Devils (19-18) are in their first year as a program.

Junior Ashley Guillette picked up her ninth win and sixth complete game of the season while scattering seven hits and stranding nine Blue Devils baserunners.

Coastal won despite having just two hits – a two-run homer in the first inning by freshman Courtney Dean and double in the third by Kassidy Smith, who scored on a wild pitch. Dean’s homer was her 10th, tying her for the most in the Sun Belt Conference.

Coastal has a weekend series with Georgia Southern beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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