Radford sweeps CSU in the weekend opener, 12-4 and 8-1

Radford sweeps CSU in the weekend opener, 12-4 and 8-1

RADFORD, Va. - Jessie Hutchens and Morgan Eye led strong hitting performances from the Highlanders on Friday afternoon, offsetting home runs by Marci Christian and Stephanie Sbardella as Radford swept the opening doubleheader of the weekend against the Buccaneers, 12-4 and 8-1.

Charleston Southern falls to 6-28, 0-8 in Big South Conference play overall with the pair of losses.

Charleston Southern and Radford close out the weekend series tomorrow afternoon, with first pitch between the Buccaneers and the Highlanders scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Radford Softball Field. The game will be streamed live via ESPN3.

Game One: Radford 12, Charleston Southern 4 (Box Score)
Radford plated 12 runs in the first three innings, helping the Highlanders offset a game-opening home run by Marci Christian as the hosts defeated the Buccaneers in the first game of the afternoon, 12-4.

Christian squared up on the third pitch of the game, driving the ball over the centerfield fence for her team-leading eighth home run of the season to spark the Buccaneers to the early lead, while Hannah Wagner added a two-run double in the fifth inning for Charleston Southern as the Bucs fall to 0-7 in Big South Conference play on the season.

Jennifer Giles (2-20) suffered the loss for the Buccaneers in the game, pitching 2.1 innings in allowing five runs in the loss. Linzy Rother hurled 1.2 innings in relief for Charleston Southern in the loss.

Jackie Jenkins (3-12) picked up her third win of the season, scattering seven hits in allowing two runs in 4.0 innings on the mound. Stephanie Dameron closed out the game, giving up Wagner's run-scoring double before retiring the final out to seal the victory.

Jessie Hutchens led the Highlanders' hitting efforts in the game, going a perfect 3-for-3 from the plate with a pair of doubles. She also scored three times and drove in four of the Highlanders 12 runs in the victory. Morgan Eye, Ryndee Ruch and Casey Burns also drove in two runs apiece for RU.

Christian opened the scoring in the contest, connecting on Jenkins' third pitch of the game for her opening blast to put the Bucs ahead 1-0 early.

Radford answered back with three in the bottom half of the first as Hutchens plated the first run for the Highlanders with a double to left field, scoring Becky Mantel to tie the score at 1-1. Ruch drew a bases-loaded walk with one out in the inning and Burns drove in the final run in the frame with a sacrifice fly to put RU up 3-1 after the first inning.

The Highlanders added four more runs in the second and five runs in the third giving Radford a 12-2 lead.

Hutchens drove in the first two runs of the second inning for RU with a double to centerfield scoring Hilari Hopkins and Mantel, while Eye followed with a home run just right of the scoreboard in left centerfield.

The Bucs pushed one runs across in the top of the third as CSU loaded the bases as Christian, Stephanie Sbardella and Jana Matthews led off the inning with back-to-back-to-back singles. Following a fielder's choice on Rother's grounder to the shortstop, Hayes Holdsworth brought in Sbardella with a single through the left side of the infield. Matthews was caught inbetween third and home during the play, tagged out during the rundown as the Bucs pushed across one run in the frame.

Radford plated their final five runs in the game in the third inning as Mantel, Hutchens, Nia Chiles, Ruch and Burns drove in runs with Chiles providing the highlight of the inning with a two-out triple to centerfield, scoring Hutchens on the plate as the Highlanders went up 12-2.

Heading into their final at-bat of the game in the top of the fifth, the Buccaneers needed to push three runs across to keep the game alive.

Matthews and Rother connected on back-to-back singles, putting runners on the corners for Charleston Southern with one out. With Lizzy Olmstead entering in as a runner, she advanced to second base on a groundout to third base, putting two runners on with two outs. Wagner cleared the bases with a line drive double into the right centerfield gap and advanced to third on a passed ball, but was unable to cross the plate as the Bucs fell 12-4 in the opener.

Game Two: Radford 8, Charleston Southern 1 (Box Score)
Stephanie Sbardella connected on her sixth home run of the season for Charleston Southern in the top of the first inning, mirroring Marci Christian's home run from the first game, but Morgan Eye connected on her second home run of the day and Jessie Hutchens added a round-tripper of her own as the Highlanders completed the doubleheader sweep over CSU with the 8-1 win.

Hayes Holdsworth (1-1) suffered the loss for the Bucs in her second start of the season, going two innings in allowing five hits and seven runs (three earned) in the loss. Jennifer Giles pitched four innings in relief, scattering four hits and one unearned run to close out the game.

Rachael Walters (6-6) led Radford on the day with a complete game four-hitter, giving up Sbardella's home run in the first inning before shutting down the CSU offense the rest of the way in picking up her sixth win of the season.

Sbardella drove in the first run of the game, connecting on a solo home run with one out in the top of the first inning after working a full count off of Walters. The CSU junior left fielder drilled the ball over the left centerfield fence, just to the right of the scoreboard at the RU Softball Field to put the Bucs ahead early.

Radford responded with eight unanswered runs over the next three innings to close out the scoring in the game.

Hutchens connected on a two-run blast in the bottom of the first, scoring Hilari Hopkins to put the Highlanders on top and Eye followed in the second inning with a two-out grand slam to give Radford the 7-1 advantage.

Walters escaped a bases loaded jam in the third inning as CSU saw Natalie Yonan and Sbardella reach with singles, while Linzy Rother drew a walk, but the RU lefty closed out the frame getting Holdsworth to foul out in front of the CSU dugout to end the threat.

Radford pushed across the final run of the game in the bottom half of the third inning as Casey Burns singled in Megan Honaker.

Both pitchers took control from there as Giles and Walters combined to allow one base runner the remainder of the game with Becky Mantel reaching on a single in the bottom of the sixth as the score held up with Radford finishing with the 8-1 victory.