Big inning propels Radford past Charleston Southern in the series opener Saturday

Big inning propels Radford past Charleston Southern in the series opener Saturday

RADFORD, Va. - Radford rallied for seven runs in the bottom of the fourth as Charleston Southern fell in the series opener on the road to the Highlanders, 8-4.

Brittany McPherson sparked a CSU comeback attempt in the fifth and sixth frames with her second home run of the season, while Marci Christian and Stevi Johnson both had RBI doubles, but the Bucs were unable to offset two errors and four hits-batsmen in losing to Radford.

CSU falls to 20-14, 2-2 in Big South Conference play with the loss, while Radford improves to 7-16, 3-3 in conference action.

The Buccaneers pitching staff surrendered only three hits on the day with all three coming in the fourth inning with Cheyenne Gandara (13-8) suffering the loss. She went the first three innings allowing two hits and six runs (four earned), while striking out three. Jennifer Giles closed out the game from inside the circle allowing two runs (one earned) and one hit while striking out five.

Amanda Matsumoto continued to have the hot bat from the top of the CSU lineup going 2-for-3 from the plate with an RBI single. Matsumoto's base hit plated the Bucs' first run of the game in the top of the second, while her second single loaded the bases for CSU in their final at-bats.

Taylor Asimakopoulos (3-1) picked up the win for the Highlanders going the first four innings inside the circle in allowing three hits and one unearned run while striking out one. Tiffany Brown and Kelsey Weddle closed out the final three innings with Weddle getting the final two outs to seal the Highlanders' victory.

Radford took the lead in the bottom of the first as Becky Mantel worked her way around the bases after drawing a leadoff walk. A sacrifice bunt moved her into scoring position, before Mantel stole third. She came around to score on the squeeze play to put RU ahead 1-0.

The Bucs answered in the top of the second as Natalie Yonan crossed the plate on Matsumoto's RBI single. The CSU centerfielder lifted the first pitch from Asimakopoulos over the shortstop's head to put CSU ahead 1-0.

Radford sent 13 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fourth, taking advantage of two CSU errors in scoring seven runs in building the 8-1 lead. The Highlanders had singles by Megan Honaker and Summer Robinson and an RBI double by Casey Burns, while the Bucs pitchers combined to hit three batters and walk one in the frame.

McPherson sparked the Bucs offense in the top of the fifth with a two-out solo home run that cleared the pine trees beyond the fence in right field to narrow the margin to 8-2.

RBI doubles by Christian and Johnson kept the Bucs offense going in the top of the sixth with Christian driving in Brook Richardson with a double to the wall in left field, while Johnson's double in the left center gap scored Christian to put the score 8-4.

Giles retired seven in a row including the Radford lineup in order in both the fifth and sixth innings to give CSU one final opportunity in the top of the seventh.

McPherson and Yonan drew back-to-back walks with one out while Matsumoto singled up the middle with two outs to load the bases and bring Christian to the plate, but Weddle was able to get the CSU slugger to fly out to left field to end the game.

Richardson also connected on a double down the right field line as one of CSU's four extra-base hits in the contest as the Bucs fall to .500 in Big South play on the season.

The Bucs and Highlanders conclude their series tomorrow morning at the RU Softball Field with first pitch of the Sunday doubleheader scheduled for 11 a.m. Both games will be streamed live via the Big South Network.