SB Preview: Bucs travel to Columbia for Tuesday night doubleheader with the Gamecocks

SB Preview: Bucs travel to Columbia for Tuesday night doubleheader with the Gamecocks

CHARLESTON, S.C -Charleston Southern will travel to Columbia for a Tuesday night doubleheader at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.  First pitch between the Buccaneers and the Gamecocks is set for 5:00 p.m. and fans can follow the action on the SEC Network or via live stats on and in-game updates on Twitter: @CSUGameDay.

Scouting South Carolina
South Carolina (25-17) enters Tuesday's contest on a high note, coming off of its first win over a top-ranked team in 15 years after topping No. 1/2 Florida State (38-3-1) 7-2 on Friday night at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.

Freshman Mackenzie Boesel leads the Gamecocks at the plate, with the lefty batting .341 during her rookie season.  She leads the team with 45 hits and 74 total bases and has connected for six home runs.  Senior first baseman Kaylea Snaer paces South Carolina with seven home runs and 11 doubles on the year, while junior outfielder Tiara Duffy leads USC with 11 stolen bases on 12 attempts.

Seniors Nickie Blue (9-8) and Jessica Elliott (10-8) lead the Gamecocks in the circle.  Blue boasts a team-best 2.43 earned run average through 28 appearances and has recorded three saves on the season.  Elliott has pitched for one save and has a 3.31 earned run average in her 27 appearances, including a team-high 83 strikeouts.

During the Shane Winkler era, Charleston Southern has gone 1-7 with the Gamecocks, posting a lone 2-0 win at South Carolina on February 28, 2012.  In their last meeting with USC on March 23 or last year, CSU fell just short of the win with a 2-1 loss at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.

SEC vs. Big South
Tuesday's doubleheader marks the Gamecocks' seventh meeting with a Big South team this season.  South Carolina shutout Presbyterian and Longwood at the Carolina Classic in February and went on to shutout Winthrop in a doubleheader later that month.  The Gamecocks hosted Gardner-Webb on March 21, where they topped the Runnin' Bulldogs, 9-4, for a perfect 6-0 mark against Big South teams this season.

Last Time Out
South Carolina 2, Charleston Southern 1 (March 23, 2016)
South Carolina scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball in the sixth inning as Charleston Southern was unable to overcome the Gamecocks on the road at the Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field on Wednesday night, 2-1.

Jordan Bizzell drew a walk to lead off the sixth inning and moved around the bases on a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch before scoring on a passed ball to give the Gamecocks (24-6) the 2-1 lead. The Bucs (13-17) put their leadoff runner on base in the top of the seventh as Georgi DeLio drew a walk, but that was in for the Bucs as Nickie Blue shut down the final three batters to close out the USC victory.

Charleston Southern tied the game up in the top of the fifth inning with aggressive base-running by Amanda Matsumoto to even the score at 1-1. After reaching on a two-out bunt single, Matsumoto stole her 22nd base of the season to move into scoring position. Jade Gandara beat out a soft grounder to the shortstop and Matsumoto never stopped running on the play, scoring in front of the relay home to tie the game up.

Matsumoto, Gandara and Stevi Johnson had all three of CSU's hits in the game as the Bucs and Gamecocks fought through a defensive battle throughout the game. The teams combined to leave 17 runners on base as timely pitching and fielding kept both squads off the scoreboard.

CSU's Hayley Elkins (6-12) took the loss after going 5.1 innings and allowing four hits. Elkins, the Big South strikeout leader entering the game, retired four Gamecocks on strikes in the contest.

Blue (11-5) closed out the final two innings in no-hit relief of starter Jessica Elliott. Blue struck out three of the seven batters she faced in recording the win.

Elkins pitched around jams in three of the seven innings as the Gamecocks loaded the bases several times in the contest against the Bucs. The sophomore right-hander recorded inning-ending strikeouts in both the first and fifth innings to keep USC off the board, but the Gamecocks pushed their first run across the plate in the fourth inning.

Victoria Williams drew a leadoff walk and stole second. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, she was singled home by Lex Hull to give USC the 1-0 lead.

The Bucs rallied back in the fifth behind Matsumoto's base-running, before USC took the game in the bottom of the sixth.

Recapping CSU's Last Game
Charleston Southern 6, Winthrop 4 (April 15, 2017)
Seniors Stevi Johnson, Stephanie Bergmann and Georgi DeLio combined for a trio of home runs to help push Charleston Southern to a 6-4 series finale victory over Winthrop on Saturday in the seniors' last collegiate game at CSU Softball Field.  Jade Gandara also contributed a homer for her second on the day and 15th of the season.

Arizona Pilgrim opened the game for the Buccaneers and recorded two strikeouts through three innings.  Holly Clark (7-8) went to the circle in the fourth frame and also added a pair of strikeouts and just one hit for the freshman's seventh win.  Cheyenne Gandara wrapped up the conference victory with two strikeouts through the final two frames, marking the redshirt junior's first save of the season.

Kiley Majette (12-13) paced Winthrop on the rubber with nine strikeouts and six hits in the Eagles' road loss.

Paige Haley got Winthrop on the board in the first inning after reaching base with a single to left field.  A pair of groundouts moved her to third and a wild pitch allowed her to score to give the Eagles the 1-0 advantage after half an inning. 

Senior Amanda Matsumoto got things going for the Bucs in the bottom of the frame, leading off with a bunt for the base hit.  Jade Gandara connected for another long ball, sending her second out with a deep rip over center field for the 2-1 CSU lead.  A walk allowed Caitlyn Emberson to get on and Bergmann followed by clearing the bases with a home run to right field to put the Bucs up 4-1 after one inning.

Pilgrim set the side down in order in the second frame, but Winthrop sparked a rally in the third with a leadoff single from Haley.  Maddie Antone and Ashley Westbrooks posted back-to-back doubles and Tara Loken brought in the Eagles' third run with a hit to left field to tie the game up at 4-4.

Majette struck out two CSU batters and side the side down in order in the bottom of the third inning.  With two away in the fourth frame, DeLio got a hold of one and ripped a solo shot over left center for the go-ahead run and her fourth home run of the season.

CSU's seniors stayed hot in the next inning with Johnson connecting on another solo home run, marking her second on the day and fifth this season.

Trailing the Bucs 6-4 through five innings, Majette set the CSU side down in order with a trio of strikeouts in the sixth frame.  Cheyenne Gandara answered back for the Bucs in the circle, holding the Eagles to three hits and pitching for two strikouts through the final two innings.  Winthrop threatened to score during their final at bat with two outs, runners on second and third and the go-ahead run at the plate.  Gandara thwarted the comeback effort and retired the Eagles' last batter swinging to seal the 6-4 victory and series win for the Bucs on Senior Day.