Gandara dominant as Bucs shine in season-opening 8-0 win over UMBC

Gandara dominant as Bucs shine in season-opening 8-0 win over UMBC

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Cheyenne Gandara pitched a complete game one-hitter and had three hits from the plate, while Amanda Matsumoto drove in the final runs with a walk-off double as Charleston Southern topped UMBC on Friday afternoon at the CSU Softball Field, 8-0.

The Bucs won their home opener for the second straight season and third in the past four years behind a dominant performance from their sophomore ace as Gandara faced two batters over the minimum in recording the complete game shutout. She added a pair of doubles and scored two runs as well from the plate in leading the Bucs to their opening win over the Retrievers.

"We have big expectations for Cheyenne and she does for herself as well," said head coach Shane Winkler. "She has a nice season as a freshman, but wasn't able to hit due to an injury last year. We know she can provide punch from the plate and be a shutdown starter. We expected her to come out and do what she did today and hope she can continue it through the weekend and be a good foundation of what she and the team does this season."

The Bucs jumped out ahead of UMBC early in the contest thanks to a five-run second inning and cruised to the win as Gandara allowed one hit, a single in the second inning and walked a batter in the first inning before retiring the final 12 batters of the contest. She struck out three in her third career complete game victory.

"This is a day that you look forward to for a long time," commented Winkler. "Ever since school opened in August all we've wanted to do was get the season going. We've spent the last three weeks getting locked in for the opening weekend and you couldn't ask for a better way to start. We came out, swung the bats extremely aggressively and had a lot of hard-hit balls on the night. Our goal now is turning the same focus to tomorrow."

Sophomore shortstop Stephanie Bergmann provided the spark from the plate in the bottom of the second as the Hesperia, Calif., native connected on a two-out bases loaded double to the left centerfield gap to push CSU's lead to 6-0 after two innings. She finished with a team-high four RBI in the CSU win.

"Stephanie was injured in the fall and is still going through her fall timing at the plate," said Winkler. "It was good to see her off to a good start and seeing her hit the ball the way she did to opposite field."

The Bucs' season opener also saw the return of CSU single-season home run record holder Marci Christian to the lineup and the redshirt senior delivered by going 2-for-2 from the plate with two runs scored and an RBI.

"Marci is one of the most feared hitters in the conference," Winkler said. "You can see right away what she brings to the lineup batting in the second spot. She makes our leadoff hitter better and the two hitters behind her more effective because she's either on base or driving in runs. It's big to have her back in our lineup."

Bridget O'Mally drew a walk for the lone UMBC runner in the top of the first, while CSU put their first run across the plate in the bottom half of the inning for the early lead. Christian singled to left field in her first at-bat and advanced to second on Stevi Johnson's single. Georgi DeLio followed by drawing a walk to load the bases before Bergmann plated the first run of the game on a groundout to the shortstop allowing Christian to score.

After Gandara shut down the Terriers in the top of the second, the sophomore hurler sparked the CSU offense in the bottom half of the inning from the plate with a double off the fence in the left centerfield gap. Gandara came around to score as Christian drew a bases-loaded walk forcing her in. Natalie Yonan followed by scoring two batters later on a wild pitch before DeLio drew a walk to reload the bases. Bergmann followed with a bases-clearing double scoring Matsumoto, Christian and DeLio to put CSU ahead 6-0.

The Bucs left runners on base in both the third and fourth innings before closing out the victory in the bottom of the fifth. Gandara again jumpstarted the CSU offense with a double and Yonan drew a walk to put two on with one out. After Brooke Holcomb flew out, Matsumoto connected on a double over the drawn-in outfield allowing both runners to score to close out the game.

CSU continues play this weekend tomorrow afternoon hosting UMBC at 1 p.m. and Southern Illinois at 3 p.m. on the CSU Softball Field.