CHARLESTON, S.C. – Fresh off a doubleheader split with South Carolina on Tuesday, the Charleston Southern softball team returns home to welcome three BCS conference opponents to Buccaneer Field for the CSU Tournament. CSU begins play Friday at 1 p.m. when it takes on Wisconsin, before meeting Kansas following the conclusion of that one. Competition continues Sunday, with the Bucs slated to oppose UConn at 11 a.m.
Dowdy Continues to Impress
Morgan Dowdy racked up nine strikeouts to punctuate a complete game shutout as Charleston Southern picked up a big out-of-conference win by downing South Carolina, 2-0, in the opener of a doubleheader at Beckham Field on Tuesday afternoon.
In the first game, CSU (10-5) scratched out a single run in the first and sixth innings in support of Dowdy, as Stephanie Sbardella rapped an RBI double for the first tally and Linzy Rother continued her hot hitting with a run-scoring single which provided insurance.
Dowdy (6-1) was masterful all day long, yielding just two hits and a pair of walks to a South Carolina lineup which had scored 7 or more runs in four of five contests over a five-game winning streak. It was the fifth complete game in seven starts in the circle this year for Dowdy, who also set a season-high with the nine punch outs.
CSU senior shortstop Megan Lombard forced a full count against South Carolina’s Kierstyn White (5-2) leading off the ball game, and took first with a leadoff walk when White missed with the payoff offering. Jessica Brock executed a sacrifice bunt to move her into scoring position, and Sbardella cashed it in two batters later by clubbing a two-out double to left field for a 1-0 CSU lead.
Jana Matthews jumpstarted the 6th inning rally with a single through the originator, and Sbardella and Kristin Kelleher followed with one-out walks to load the bases. That set the stage for Rother, who stepped into the batter’s box and pulled single to left field to plate Matthews and account for the final margin.
White kept the Gamecocks within two runs entering their final turn at-bat, and brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Samie Garcia following a walk. Garcia was no match for Dowdy, however, as the junior right-hander fanned her on a 2-2 pitch to end it.
More of the Same from Dowdy Leads Bucs to 2-1 Weekend
CSU junior ace right-hander Morgan Dowdy has continued to pitch like an ace through her command of the strike zone and impeccable control. Dowdy had her stretch of 32.1 innings without allowing an earned run broken when Marshall’s Rebecca Gamby homered to start the 4th inning of Feb. 17th’s game, but the Pleasanton, Calif. native continued to grind and kept the Thundering Herd off the scoreboard to allow the Bucs to prevail, 3-2, in 8 innings. Following a loss to Kennesaw State, Dowdy once again played the role of stopper by going the distance in a 7-3 victory over Akron. For the weekend, Dowdy hurled 15.0 frames and allowed only four earned runs on 12 hits and four walks, while managing to sprinkle in 12 strikeouts along the way. Dowdy has now penned complete games in three of her four starts to date.
Sbardella Sparks CSU Offense
Shane Winkler and company know they will get production out of senior Megan Lombard and juniors Jessica Brock and Jana Matthews, but what makes CSU so excited about its offense is the number of threats they have behind them in the lineup. One player who has emerged already after a solid freshman season is 3B/OF Stephanie Sbardella. The Fairfax Station, Va. native earned Big South all-conference second team honors last year, and currently places second on the club in batting with a .375 clip. A big reason for that average was her performance in three games this weekend, as she went 4-for-9 with a double and 2 RBI, and drew a walk to compile a .500 OBP. Her inside-the-park home run vs. Furman during the opening weekend set is still the only long ball of the season
for a CSU team that is expected to pack quite a bit of punch this year.