TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Charleston Southern took the opening game of the Unconquered Classic on Saturday afternoon, topping Wichita State 3-2 behind a game-winning two-run blast by Ari Tedesco and a strong pitching performance by Jennifer Giles. However, CSU was unable to keep the momentum in falling to the Panthers in the nightcap, 9-4.
Marci Christian and Stephanie Sbardella both added home runs on the day in support of the Buccaneers efforts on the second day at JoAnne Graf Field as Charleston Southern moves to 7-4-1 following the split against the Shockers and Panthers.
The Buccaneers close out the weekend on Sunday at the Lady Rattler Softball Complex, taking on Florida A&M. First pitch of the game between the Bucs and the Rattlers is set for 11:30 a.m.
Charleston Southern 3, Wichita State 2
Ari Tedesco snapped a 1-1 tie in the top of the seventh inning, connecting on a two-run home run over the right field fence in support of junior ace Jennifer Giles as the Buccaneers topped the Shockers in their first game of the day, 3-2.
Tedesco's blast came with one out in the inning as the senior catcher jumped on the first pitch from Wichita State starter Sloan Anderson, driving the ball over the right field fence and scoring Natalie Yonan on the play to push CSU ahead 3-1.
The Shockers battled back in the bottom of the inning as Ali Vandever doubled to right centerfield to lead off the inning and Melanie Jaegers followed two batters later with a double to the left center gap to halve the CSU lead down to 3-2. Giles walked the bases loaded as Kelli Spring waited out the full-count offering, but the Buccaneers defense stood up strong as Brandy Galaviz forced out Jaegers at the plate before Stephanie Bergmann tracked down a grounder and threw out Brittany Fortner to end the game and keep the CSU lead intact.
Giles (3-1) hurled her first complete game of the season in the victory, facing 31 batters and throwing 120 pitches in the contest. She retired six on strikes in the game, scattering six hits and allowing two earned runs in her third win of the season.
Anderson (4-4) matched the CSU right-hander, going the distance in a losing effort as the WSU lefty struck out four and scattered six hits in the loss.
The Shockers struck first on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second as Paige Luellen led off the inning with a double. A sacrifice bunt dropped by Vandever moved her over to third, but Giles threatened to escape the frame after retiring Layne Greenlee on strikes. With two outs, Jaegers connected on a base hit up the middle to put bring Luellen across the plate and put the Shockers ahead 1-0. Giles retired Spring to end the frame, but not before the damage was done.
Charleston Southern responded in their next at-bats with Marci Christian providing the big punch with a smash over the left field fence. The two-out, 1-2 offering from Anderson cleared the fence and went all the way to the parking garage close to the field to knot the game up at 1-1.
Giles, meanwhile, settled down after the second inning, retiring 11 straight batters at one point before Fortner singled down the left field line with one out in the bottom of the sixth. She left Fortner stranded on first, however, paving way for Tedesco's heroics in the top of the seventh.
Christian led the CSU offense in the contest with a pair of extra base hits, connecting on a double in the fifth inning to go with her solo home run. Tedesco had a pair of RBIs in the game courtesy of her home run, while Yonan picked up her first stolen base of the season in the victory.
Northern Iowa 9, Charleston Southern 4
The Panthers scored nine unanswered runs, using a six run fifth inning in pulling away from Charleston Southern in the nightcap on Saturday evening as the Buccaneers closed out the split on the day in falling to Northern Iowa, 9-4.
Stephanie Sbardella staked the Buccaneers to an early lead with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning, but errors plagued CSU throughout the game despite strong pitching efforts by Morgan Dowdy, Lauren Darden and Cheyenne Gandara as the Bucs surrendered six unearned runs in the contest in the loss.
Dowdy retired the side in the top of the first, catching UNI starting pitcher Chelsea Ross swinging at strike three to end the frame and the Bucs offense followed up by jumping ahead immediately in the bottom of the frame behind the powerful bat of Sbardella. The CSU senior right fielder connected on the first pitch from Ross to drive the two-run blast over the left field fence, scoring Marci Christian to stake the Buccaneers to the 2-0 lead.
After another 1-2-3 inning in the second for the Panthers, Ari Tedesco and Christian both connected on RBI singles in the frame to put the Bucs ahead 4-0. Yonan led off the inning in drawing a walk, advancing into scoring position on a wild pitch before reaching third on Georgi DeLio's sacrifice bunt. Tedesco followed with a single to right to drive in the first run of the inning, while Christian singled to left two batters later to score Tedesco and give CSU the four run advantage after two innings.
The Panthers offense took two back in the top of the third, taking advantage of a CSU error to load the bases before Ross was hit by a pitch to bring in the first UNI run of the game. Rikki Alcaraz followed with an infield single to score Anna Varriano to halve the Bucs lead in the third.
Michaela Martin kept the UNI bats going in the contest, leading off the top of the fourth with a triple in the right centerfield gap and scored on a wild pitch to pull the Panthers within one run. Dowdy was replaced by Darden in the frame and the CSU senior escaped a bases-loaded jam to keep the Bucs lead intact by getting Caitlin Wnek to fly out to left, before Ross grounded out back to Darden to end the inning.
After the Bucs went down in the fourth, Northern Iowa broke the game open in the fifth, putting six runs across while 10 batters stepped up to the plate in the inning. Wnek pushed across the big hit in the inning with a bases-loaded triple to the right centerfield gap, while two more CSU errors helped put the Panthers on top 9-4.
Charleston Southern threatened with runners in scoring position in both the sixth and seventh innings as the Bucs attempted to battle back into the game, but Ross stranded two runners in the sixth, while Lizzy Olmstead ended the game standing on third base as CSU fell to the Panthers to close out the night.
Darden (1-2) suffered the loss on the day for the Bucs, pitching 1.1 innings in relief on the night. Dowdy went three innings in the start, while Gandara closed out the final 2.2 innings inside the circle, striking out three in the contest.
Ross (3-2) picked up the win in going six innings, scattering four hits while striking out five for UNI. Jamie Fisher ended the night inside the circle, pitching a shutout seventh inning.
Sbardella led the Buccaneers offense with two hits to go with two RBI, while Alcaraz was UNI's top batter, going 3-for-4 from the plate.