CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern is back in action this weekend as the Buccaneers make their final Big South road trip of the 2019 season as CSU heads to Farmville, Va. for a three-game series against the conference-leading Longwood Lancers.
The Bucs (15-28, 9-6 Big South) are looking to continue one of their most successful seasons in the history of conference play as CSU makes the weekend trek. The Bucs have won six of their last seven games, including a sweep over Presbyterian and a conference-series win over Hampton to sit fourth in the standings with three series to play.
Longwood (26-13, 12-1 Big South) continue to remain atop the conference standings as the teams head into the final stretch of the 2019 season. The Lancers were picked the conference's preseason favorites for the fourth consecutive season and are headlined by Preseason Player of the Year Kaylynn Batten and Co-Pitcher of the Year Sydney Gay.
CSU has rallied back in their first year under new Head Coach Venus Taylor as the Bucs have shrugged off a slow tournament start and parlayed it into conference success. After taking the series against Radford, the Bucs have added wins against both USC Upstate and Campbell, before their recent six-game winning streak.
The six-game winning streak in Big South play was the longest in CSU history and was the Bucs' longest winning streak dating back to early in the 2018 season. Caitlyn Emberson paced the Bucs over the six-game stretch with a .400 batting average and .571 on-base percentage, while Holly Clark (3-0, 0.40 ERA) and Arizona Pilgrim (3-0, 1.54 ERA) both excelled in the circle.
Annie Bakenhus leads four CSU players hitting above .300 on the season as CSU's team batting average has risen to .293 in Big South play over the last month. The senior left fielder continues to sit atop the CSU lineup and pace the Bucs in hits (46), doubles (nine) and runs scored (23) while stealing six bases.
Sarah Brown connected on her first home run of the season over the weekend and continues to build on a strong sophomore campaign hitting .311 from the plate with 20 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. Jade Gandara (.311) is also hitting above .300 on the season and leads CSU with 12 extra-base hits on the year.
Emberson (.300) is the fourth Buccaneer to hit the .300 mark this season. The senior catcher leads the Bucs with a .509 slugging percentage courtesy of her team-leading six home runs, while her combined 33 walks-HBPs give her a team-leading .462 on-base percentage.
Rhiana Hubbard has been the power threat in conference play for the Buccaneers as the freshman centerfielder has embraced her role in the CSU lineup. Hubbard leads the way with four home runs and 10 RBI in conference action this season.
Pilgrim (9-16) has been the Bucs' spotlight in the circle this year as the senior right-hander sits among the Big South leaders in multiple categories. The Taft, Calif. native is third in the conference in both innings pitched (152.0) and strikeouts (101), while leading the Big South with 34 appearances.
Clark is also among the conference leaders with 28 appearances and 15 starts, while Alyssa Heinrich leads the Big South with 13 games finished on the year.
Longwood boasts a 12-3 record at home this season under Head Coach Kathy Riley and minus a 3-1 loss in the conference weekend opener at Winthrop, have boasted a nearly perfect record in Big South play this year.
The series between the Bucs and Lancers has been weighed heavily in Longwood's favor. Longwood is 19-6 all-time against the Bucs, including a perfect 8-0 record at home against CSU.
Chelsea Whitcomb leads the Longwood offense on the season with a .333 batting average, while Jordan Clark (.313) is also among the team leaders. Three different players have recorded five home runs for Longwood this season including Clark, Batten, and Alexis Wayland.
Sydney Gay and Sydney Backstrom have been the aces in the circle for the Lancers this year. Gay boasts a 3.15 ERA and a 9-6 record on the year, while Backstrom has made 27 appearances and 19 starts to go with nine complete games.