SB Preview: Bucs host CofC to open last week of home play

SB Preview: Bucs host CofC to open last week of home play

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern will be back at home tomorrow as the Buccaneers wrap up their series with College of Charleston on Wednesday afternoon at CSU Softball Field.  First pitch between CSU and CofC is set for 4:00 p.m. and fans can follow the action via live stats on and in-game updates on Twitter: @CSUGameday.

Scouting College of Charleston
College of Charleston enters Wednesday's matchup with a 20-17 record on the season and a 3-6 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association.  The Cougars are coming off of a four-game losing streak and were swept by UNC Wilmington at home last weekend.

How each team stacked up against the Seahawks
Charleston Southern faced off with UNC Wilmington earlier in the year, going 1-1 with the Seahawks in the Buccaneer Invitational Tournament.  The Buccaneers fell to UNCW in their first meeting, 5-11, but came back to take the Seahawks in extra innings (eight innings) on Sunday, 2-1.

The Cougars took on the Seahawks last weekend at home and were topped in all three games.  CofC was defeated by UNCW, 1-2, in the series opener on Saturday and was shutout, 0-1, in game two.  UNCW sealed the sweep on Sunday, pulling ahead of the Cougars in the fourth inning for the 6-3 win.

Reviewing the Rivalry
Under the Shane Winkler era, the Buccaneers have a 12-21 record against the Cougars.  CSU is looking to put an end to its cold streak with CofC, as the Bucs have been topped in the last 11 meetings between the schools. 

DuPree is key
Junior Taylor DuPree leads CofC at the plate with a .393 batting average and .464 on-base percentage—and if the third baseman gets on, she's likely to go for more.  Dupree leads the team with 19 stolen bases out of 22 attempts.  She has earned 37 starts on the season and boasts a team-best 48 hits and 26 runs scored. 

Cinco sluggers in sync
Freshman Taylor Belfiore and junior Jordin Jones pace the Cougars with five home runs apiece this season.  Belfiore has connected for a homer in CofC's matchups with Eastern Kentucky, North Dakota State, Lafayette and Western Carolina.  The catcher most recently knocked one out of the park on March 29 at Patriots Point against Charleston Southern.  Belfiore is second on the team with a .561 slugging percentage but has gone without a hit in her last 11 at bats.  Jones has connected for home runs in CofC's contests with North Dakota State, Chattanooga, Lafayette and Elon.  The outfielder recorded her fifth home run on April 1 in CofC's 6-16 loss to #15 James Madison.  Jones is second on the team with 35 hits on the season but has also gone hitless in her last 11 at bats.

Violette the threat
Brittany Violette leads College of Charleston in the circle with a 1.40 earned run average.  The sophomore has recorded four wins and three losses on the season, along with one save.  In her five starts and 16 appearances, Violette has pitched for 30 strikeouts, an opposing batting average of .166 and has allowed just nine earned runs.  Rounding out the Cougars on the rubber is Izzy Berouty (3-4) with a 2.51 earned run average and three saves in her 18 appearances, Sydney Shipley (7-5) with an earned run average of 3.08 and team-high 48 strikeouts in 20 appearances and Sam Martin (5-4) with a 4.12 earned run average and 35 strikeouts in her 19 appearances.

Last time out
March 29, 2017 – Doubleheader – CofC Softball Stadium at Patriots Point
Errors in game one and cold bats during the second half of Charleston Southern's doubleheader finale with College of Charleston allowed the Cougars to sweep the Buccaneers on Wednesday night at Patriots Point.

Cheyenne Gandara led the Bucs (16-24) in the circle allowing two unearned runs and just five hits in CSU's 2-0 loss in its first contest with the Cougars (19-12).  Gandara also paced the Bucs at the plate, going 3-for-4 in CSU's 6-5 loss for game two.  The redshirt-junior combined for a team-high four hits and .571 batting average on the night.

Game One: College of Charleston 2, Charleston Southern 0
Errors in the field dogged Charleston Southern as the Buccaneers fell to College of Charleston, 2-0, on Wednesday night at CofC Softball Stadium. 

CSU's defense struggled during the doubleheader opener with three errors that allowed CofC to score both of its runs.  Cheyenne Gandara (5-9) led the Bucs in the circle, pitching for five hits, and two strikeouts through five innings.  Reliever Arizona Pilgrim closed out the contest with a one-hitter in the sixth frame.

Sydney Shipley (6-3) led the Cougars on the rubber with six strikeouts, allowing just two hits in the shutout.

CofC got on the board early after singles from Taylor DuPree and Yari Felix put runners on first and second with two outs.  An infield throwing error by CSU allowed Felix to score, giving the Cougars the 1-0 advantage after one complete frame.

Gandara connected for a single up the middle in the top of the second, but was left stranded as CSU's offense was unable to spark a rally at the plate. 

The Cougars added another run in the bottom of the third as DuPree singled to shortstop and advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt.  A groundout moved DuPree to third, and a sacrifice fly to center from Jordin Jones scored the run to put CofC ahead 2-0 after three innings. 

Gandara held the Cougars to just one hit over the next two innings and the Bucs recorded their second and final hit in the top of the seventh as Stevi Johnson connected for a single through the left side.

CSU's comeback attempt was thwarted by Shipley's sixth strikeout and a flyout for a double play sealed the 2-0 Cougar victory. 

Game Two: College of Charleston 6, Charleston Southern 5
Charleston Southern was unable to execute in the final innings and left seven runners on base for a narrow 6-5 loss against College of Charleston at CofC Softball Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Buccaneers capitalized on several CofC errors after the Cougars put up three runs in the first frame with a home run from Taylor Belfiore.  CSU pulled ahead in the top of the second, recording four runs off of one hit and three defensive throwing errors. 

The Cougars tied the game up in the bottom of the frame with doubles from Dana Horgan and Madi Brown to set the score at 4-4 after two complete innings.

Sister power-hitters Jade and Cheyenne Gandara opened the third with a double to left center and a single to left field to put runners on the corners with no outs.  Mallory Kasinger followed with a sacrifice fly to left for the 5-4 Buc advantage.  CofC reliever Sam Martin (5-2) retired the next batter and a rip to right center from Lexie Vanada was robbed just short of the fence to end the Buccaneer rally.

CofC responded with aggressive base running and three hits for two runs in the bottom and the inning for the 6-5 lead. 

Arizona Pilgrim (4-9) held the Cougars to just two hits for the remainder of the game, but CSU's bats went cold and the Bucs left four on base through the last four frames to close out the 6-5 defeat.

Recapping CSU's last game
Charleston Southern 8, Radford 1 – April 9, 2017
RADFORD, VA – Charleston Southern struck early and never let up as the Buccaneers topped the Highlanders, 8-1, in the conference series finale on Sunday at Radford Softball Stadium. 

Cheyenne Gandara (7-11) recorded four strikeouts and allowed one run (none earned) in the complete game effort.  The redshirt junior was also hot at the plate, connecting for a two-run homer in the first frame.

Sunday's victory marked the first time the Buccaneers (20-27, 5-7) have won a conference series with Radford (18-17, 4-5) since 2011.

CSU opened the game with big bats.  After a throwing error allowed Amanda Matsumoto to reach base, Stevi Johnson laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance her to second.  Matsumoto made it to third on a passed ball and a single from Jade Gandara scored the Bucs' first run.  Cheyenne Gandara followed her sister with a home run to right center to give CSU the 3-0 advantage after half an inning.

Cheyenne Gandara allowed just two hits in the Highlanders' first four at bats and set the side down in order in both the second and fourth frames.  The Bucs got their bats going again in the fifth as Johnson led off with a double to center field.  Jade Gandara connected for her second RBI of the game with a double to right to give CSU the 4-0 lead.  Gandara finished the day with a game-high three hits and four RBI.

Radford recorded its lone run in the bottom of the fifth after Brittany Wratchford doubled to left field and a CSU fielding error allowed her to score.  The Buccaneers made up for it at the plate in the sixth frame with hits from Georgi DeLio, Matsumoto and Jade Gandara to score a pair of runs for the 6-1 CSU lead.

The Highlanders had another opportunity to score in the bottom of the frame with runners on first and second with one out.  CSU's defense came up big as third baseman Mallory Kasinger turned a double play to get the Bucs out of the inning.

Caitlyn Emberson was hit by a pitch to open the seventh frame and Kasinger followed with a walk.  A sac bunt from DeLio moved both runners up, and a groundout RBI from Stephanie Bergmann gave the Bucs the 7-1 lead.  Pinch hitter Lexie Vanada kept the rally going with a rip to left center to score Kasinger and set the score at 8-1.

Radford tried to get something going in the bottom of the inning with hits from Summer Robinson and Hannah Medlam.  The Bucs' defense stayed strong and thwarted the comeback effort to take the series with the 8-1 victory.

Big South Player of the Week – Caitlyn Emberson (April 10, 2017)…
Charleston Southern sophomore Caitlyn Emberson (Taft, Calif.) was selected as the Big South Conference Softball Player of the Week for games played April 3-9 as announced by the conference office on Monday afternoon. 

Emberson recorded a pair of home runs in two of CSU's games last week and connected for eight hits, eight RBI, two doubles, five runs scored and 22 total bases.  The sophomore slugger posted back-to-back homers in CSU's 8-3 win over Alabama State to open the week. 

Emberson stayed hot over the weekend, connecting on home runs in back-to-back at-bats for five RBI in CSU's 10-2 win over Radford on Saturday.  The Taft, California native batted for .667 on the week and finished the four games with a 1.833 slugging percentage and .733 on base percentage.