CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern looks to ride the momentum coming off of a win against local rival College of Charleston on Tuesday afternoon as the Buccaneers travel to Radford, Va. and Radford University for their first Big South Conference road weekend series on the season.
The Buccaneers will take on the Highlanders in a doubleheader on Friday afternoon, with first pitch at the Radford Softball Field scheduled for 2 p.m. In the series finale on Saturday afternoon, first pitch is set for 1 p.m., with the game being streamed live on ESPN3.
The Buccaneers enter the weekend with an 0-6 record in Big South Conference play on the season, falling to Longwood University two weekends ago at home, while weather played with Charleston Southern's schedule against Winthrop this past weekend as the Eagles took three games from CSU at the CSU Softball Field.
Over the weekend series against Winthrop, rainy conditions over the city of Charleston caused several adjustments to the schedule as the Bucs took on the Eagles in a single game on Saturday evening, while CSU and WU closed out the series on Monday afternoon after water-saturated field conditions moved the games from Sunday afternoon.
The Eagles bats came alive in their victories over Charleston Southern as Winthrop used a pair of home runs in the opener to defeat CSU 7-2, while a pair of strong pitching performances by Sutton Watson on Monday led to the doubleheader sweep by WU, 9-3 and 4-3.
In Tuesday's action against the College of Charleston, sophomore right-hander Jennifer Giles turned in two of her best pitching performances of the season, battling CofC's Hope Klicker to a standstill through the first six innings before a bases loaded walk led to the Cougars win in the first game, 2-1.
The nightcap of the doubleheader saw Linzy Rother battle the CofC lineup through five innings as Jana Matthews connected on a two-run home run and Rother added a two RBI single, before Giles closed out the game, battling through several pressure situations, including the bases-loaded with one out in the sixth inning as the Bucs ended their 10 game losing streak with the 6-4 victory.
Charleston Southern and Radford have been closely matched over the past two seasons with Radford taking two of three from the Buccaneers last season at the CSU Softball Field, while Charleston Southern took two of three from the Highlanders during the Bucs last trip to Radford during the 2011 season. The teams have battled each other once in the postseason over the past two seasons, with Radford knocking Charleston Southern out of the tournament during the 2011 Big South Softball Championships.
Charleston Southern has been led at the plate on the season by junior utility player Marci Christian and junior third baseman Stephanie Sbardella.
Christian, who during her time with the Buccaneers has lined up all over the field, including stints at catcher, first base and both left and right field, leads the way with a .358 batting average, and serves as the team leader in home runs (7), RBI (23) and hits (34). With the injury sustained by Trea Steele, Christian has also moved into the leadoff position in the lineup for head coach Shane Winkler, and responded with two of her best games at the plate, including a 4-for-4 game against Winthrop, and a 2-for-4 effort against the Eagles.
Sbardella has also moved around the field, lining up at both third base and left field throughout the season. The junior from Fairfax Station, Va. returns to her home state this weekend hitting .337 on the year and leads the team with 21 runs scored and 14 walks drawn, while also leading the team with three sacrifice flies. She is currently second on the team with five home runs and 19 RBI, and sports a team-best .448 on-base percentage.
On the mound, Giles continues to lead the way for Charleston Southern, and the Jupiter, Fla. native also paces the Big South Conference on the season, leading the conference in innings pitched (138.2), appearances (28), game started (21) and complete games (15). She is also currently third in the Big South in strikeouts with 79 on the season and comes into the weekend sporting a 2-19 record on the mound with a 5.00 ERA.
Rother has also established herself firmly in the rotation for the Buccaneers, complimenting Giles as the second starter for CSU. The senior right-hander picked up her third win of the season against the College of Charleston and has hurled 50.2 innings for the Bucs on the year.
Radford looks to bounce back from a tough road loss to Big South rival Longwood on Wednesday evening as the Highlanders fell 8-4 to their travel partners in the conference in Farmville, Va.
The Highlanders enter the weekend on a four game skid, suffering three losses at this past weekend's Radford Invitational before their loss to Longwood. In Big South Conference play on the season, the Highlanders are currently 1-1 overall, with a victory over Liberty.
Becky Mantel, Jessica Agee and Morgan Eye are all hitting over .300 on the season, paced by Mantel's team leading .324 batting average on the season. Mantel leads the team in hits (23), runs (19), and walks drawn (15) over the season. Agee is hitting .311 overall over 61 at-bats and adds four stolen bases, while Eye is the team's speedster on the base paths, supplementing a .302 average with 12 stolen bases on 13 attempts in the season.
From the mound, Rachael Walters and Jackie Jenkins have both seen the most action on the rubber for the Highlanders on the season. Walters sports a 5-6 record and 3.96 ERA in 17 appearances and 10 starts on the season. Jenkins sports a 5.47 ERA and 2-12 record, throwing a team-high 70.1 innings inside the circle.