CHARLESTON, S.C. - Caitlyn Emberson connected on the three-run walk-off home run to highlight a strong batting performance for the Buccaneers as Charleston Southern topped St. Bonaventure on Wednesday afternoon at the CSU Softball Field, 9-1.
Emberson's three-run blast, her second of the season, was one of three home runs the Bucs (13-3) hit on the afternoon as CSU continues its early season trend. CSU has 25 home runs on the season after entering the week ranked among the top five in the NCAA in total home runs and home runs per game.
Alyssa Heinrich (5-1) recorded a solid start in the circle for CSU on her way to picking up her team-leading fifth win of the season. The freshman right-hander allowed three hits and an unearned run over the first five innings of the contest. Nicole Ayala struck out a pair in the sixth to highlight her inning on the rubber.
Rylee Hehir (0-3) took the loss for the Bonnies after allowing six hits and four runs (three earned) over the first three innings. Grace Van Horn went the final 2.1 innings allowing the final five runs, including Emberson's walkoff blast.
The Bonnies struck first in the top of the first inning as St. Bonaventure took advantage of a CSU error up the middle for the first run of the game. Alexandra Deal reached on a one-out fielder's choice and stole second to advance into scoring position. She came around to score on Hailey Blencowe's grounder up the middle as the play was bobbled by the CSU infield allowing the Bonnies to take lead.
CSU answered in the bottom of the second inning as Nina Del Rio continued to keep swinging the hot bat with a leadoff double. Christi Takac came into run and scored on Taylor Gleason's bunt single as the Bonnies threw the ball around the infield.
Back-to-back home runs highlighted CSU's third at-bats as Mallory Kasinger and Sarah Brown connected on consecutive pitches to put the Bucs ahead 4-1. Kasinger followed Jade Gandara's two-out single with a blast to the right of straightaway centerfield for her fifth home run of the season. Brown connected on a shot over the left field on the next pitch from Hehir to follow with her fourth home run of the season.
The Bucs took advantage of a pair of St. Bonaventure errors in the bottom of the fourth to add two more to the lead. Gleason scored on an errant throw on Meghan Gagliano's stolen base attempt. Annie Bakenhus followed with an RBI base hit to shallow centerfield bringing Gagliano home to stretch the lead to 6-1.
Ayala pitched around a leadoff infield single in the sixth to send the Bucs into what turned out to be CSU's final at-bats of the game. Summer Moore and Gagliano opened the frame with back-to-back singles and advanced into scoring position on Bakenhus' grounder to second. Emberson worked a full count before connecting on the game-clinching three-run home run to close out the action.
News & Notes
- Kasinger and Brown's back-to-back home runs were the fourth pair of consecutive home runs CSU has hit this season.
- Heinrich took over the individual wins lead for the Bucs with her fifth victory of the season on Wednesday afternoon. She was previously tied with Holly Clark (4-1) and Arizona Pilgrim (4-1) on the season.
- Head Coach Shane Winkler could reach a coaching milestone this upcoming weekend as the CSU skipper has 248 career wins at the helm of the Buccaneers.
- Emberson became the sixth CSU player to record multiple home runs this season as the catcher/first baseman connected on her second of the year in the walk-off shot.
- CSU picked up its third win over the Bonnies in the last week after topping St. Bonaventure twice this past weekend at the Willie Jewell's Invitational.
- The Bucs have run-ruled six opponents in the 2018 season following their 9-1 win over the Bonnies.
- CSU's eight-game winning streak continues the Bucs' longest winning streak in Head Coach Shane Winkler's tenure with the Bucs.
- CSU closes out its season-opening 16-game homestand and the month of February with a 13-3 overall record.
Charleston Southern makes its first road trip of the season this weekend as the Bucs travel to Knoxville, Tenn. on March 2-4 for the Tennessee Invitational. The Bucs open play on Friday morning at 10 a.m. against South Alabama.