CHARLESTON, S.C. – CSU opens the 2016 season on Friday with a morning start at Joe Riley Park. The Buccaneers will host West Virginia at 11 a.m. in downtown Charleston in the first matchup in a three-game series with the Mountaineers. Saturday's first pitch is at 11 a.m. followed by a 10 a.m. start on Sunday.
Charleston Southern, behind a veteran pitching ace and a roster that features 11 seniors, is hoping to turn the corner in the Big South under 8th-year Head Coach Stuart Lake. CSU could have as many as seven seniors in the Opening Day lineup, an intangible that has Lake confident the Bucs will finish much higher than their preseason spot of seventh in the Big South poll.
"This will be the most experienced lineup I've had, especially on the infield," Lake said. "You look at our mental toughness and what this team has been through, I think we can win some games that most teams might let slip away. This is a mature and talented group and I think they'll find a way to be successful against one of the toughest schedules we've played."
CSU faces a stern test out of the Big 12 right out of the gate. The Bucs were swept at West Virginia last season in sub-freezing temperatures in Washington, Pa. and will look to get off to a better start this weekend as senior RHP Evan Raynor (4-5, 3.01 ERA) starts on Opening Day. Raynor worked his way out of the bullpen and into one of the top pitchers in the Big South last season.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS – Charleston Southern vs. West Virginia (2015 stats)
Friday, 11 a.m. – LIVE STATS - RHP Evan Raynor (4-5, 3.01 ERA) vs. RHP Chad Donato (7-6, 3.07 ERA)
NINE DOVES: Charleston Southern is wearing the "Nine Doves" logo on its batting helmets and on an alternate uniform this season, which the Bucs will wear Sunday. The logo honors the nine victims of the Emanuel AME tragedy last summer.
CSU's BIG SOUTH LEADER: CSU head coach Stuart Lake enters the 2016 season tied with Gary Murphy as CSU's all-time wins leader with 75. Lake also needs 26 wins to become CSU's all-time wins leader (Murphy, 186).
EXPERIENCED SIDE: 3B Nate Blanchard and SS Cole Murphy both started 52-of-53 games last season for the Bucs, giving CSU a combined 115 hits and 25 doubles on the left side of the infield. Blanchard was an honorable mention All-Big South selection in a season that included a 21-game hitting streak.
MAZEY RETURNS: WVU coach Randy Mazey was head coach of Charleston Southern from 1994-96. In his final season, he led the Buccaneers to their first NCAA Tournament, with a 30-24-1 record. Mazey was named the Big South Coach of the Year as CSU won the Big South title. In his first season, Mazey coached current CSU head coach Stuart Lake in 1994. It was Lake's senior season for Charleston Southern.
TICKETS: All tickets are $7 and general admission. Any tickets sold online prior to the site change will be honored.
DIRECTIONS: JOE RILEY PARK (Click here) – Address: 360 Fisburne St., Charleston, SC 29403