CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern is nine days away from Opening Day at Buccaneer Field as the Buccaneers continue preparations for the CSU Invitational hosted at the CSU Softball Field on February 7-10.
Head Coach Venus Taylor begins her first season at the helm this year. Taylor is looking to an experienced battery with veteran pitchers and power-hitting catchers to help the Bucs prepare for the rigors of the 2019 season.
Newcomers: C Heather Carver
Things to Watch from the Pitchers/Catchers
No Longer Newbies
Key to Charleston Southern's success this season will be the continued development of now-sophomore pitcher Alyssa Heinrich and junior Emily Visnic.
Heinrich saw the majority of the action for the trio last season with Pitcher and Freshman of the Week recognition from the conference. She finished second on the team with 29 appearances and 81.0 innings pitched while sporting a 7-5 overall record and two saves. She added the second-lowest ERA on the team at 3.98.
Emily Visnic provided a strong right arm in the circle after posting 17 appearances and two starts last season. Among her highlights included wins over Presbyterian and Savannah State, while she also lined up in nearly every Big South series in 2018.
Getting On Base Any Way She Can
One thing is for sure – senior catcher Caitlyn Emberson knows how to get on base. The Taft, Calif. native has finished among the Big South and NCAA leaders in hit-by-pitch and on-base percentage in each of the last two seasons and is coming off a season where she led the conference in walks and hit-by-pitch. She started all 56 games last season and is coming off a year where she hit .270 with seven home runs and nine doubles. Emberson has been a fixture atop the CSU lineup over the last three seasons and has an opportunity to move among the Bucs' career leaders in multiple categories this season including home runs, RBI, and doubles.
Pilgrim/Clark Veteran Presence
Fixtures in the circle for the last two seasons, senior Arizona Pilgrim and junior Holly Clark return as the veteran leaders for the Buccaneers. The duo combined for 35 starts and 59 appearances last season in leading the Bucs in multiple pitching categories. Pilgrim posted season-highs in wins (8), innings pitched (113.1), and strikeouts (83), while Clark had 17 starts, seven wins, and four complete games on the season. The duo is likely to reprise their roles in the CSU rotation heading into 2019.
"I think our pitchers have a better understanding and a deeper understanding of how important location is. I think they've definitely matured and grown over the time I've been able to spend with them. They are asking more questions and getting more into the details. I'm excited to see what they can do. All of our pitchers have different styles, so it'll be nice to go out there and be able to give hitters different looks." – Head Coach Venus Taylor on the pitching staff.
"Caitlyn (Emberson) is obviously someone our players can look to. She's a leader and has a solid, big bat that is an important part of our lineup. She's also stepped up and become a vocal leader for us on the field." – Taylor on her senior catcher.
Inside the Numbers
83 – Team-leading strikeouts recorded by Arizona Pilgrim last season
32 – Big South-leading walks drawn by Caitlyn Emberson last season
26 – Career wins for Arizona Pilgrim – good for 7th all-time in the CSU record books
22 – Big South-leading hits by pitch drawn by Caitlyn Emberson last season
17 – Games in relief for Alyssa Heinrich in 2018
3.98 – Team-leading ERA by Alyssa Heinrich recorded in 2018