CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern completes their seven game home stand this weekend as the Buccaneers host Liberty University in a three game Big South Conference weekend series as CSU enters the final month of the 2013 regular season.
The Bucs host the Flames in a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon with first pitch of the day scheduled for 2 p.m. CSU and Liberty close out the series on Sunday with the Bucs and Flames slated to start at 1 p.m.
Charleston Southern enters the weekend with a 1-3 record in the month of April as the Bucs opened play falling in both games of the doubleheader to Coastal Carolina, while CSU split with Canisius on Wednesday afternoon, winning the first game 13-0, while falling in the nightcap, 12-2.
Tuesday's windy conditions helped Coastal Carolina overcome Charleston Southern as the long ball played a part in the Chanticleers sweeping the doubleheader over the Bucs. The teams combined to hit nine home runs on the afternoon with the Chants connecting on seven of the blasts in recording the 11-3 and 11-2 victories.
In Wednesday's action against Canisius, the Bucs scored in every inning in the first game with Marci Christian and Stephanie Sbardella going deep for Charleston Southern in the 13-0 rout. The Golden Griffins rallied back in the nightcap behind Meghan Cuda's six RBI in earning the split with the 12-2 victory.
Liberty has led the way in the overall series between the Flames and the Buccaneers, 38-14, but Charleston Southern took back control last season, winning three out of the four meetings last year, including a 14-3 win over Liberty in the first round of the 2012 Big South Softball Championships. The Bucs connected on six home runs in the game, led by two round-trippers by both Jana Matthews and Sbardella in the win.
Marci Christian continues to lead the way for Charleston Southern on the season as the junior catcher has paced the Bucs offense, hitting, .348 on the season with a team-high 40 hits and 10 home runs. She also paces CSU with 27 runs batted in during the game and recently showed her speed on the base paths, nabbing her third stolen base on the season.
Stephanie Sbardella is also hitting above .300 on the season, hitting .337 overall and leads the team with 27 runs scored on the year. The junior third baseman has also seen time at both corner outfield positions on the season and connected on her eighth home run of the season earlier this week against Canisius, moving her into the top five all-time in the CSU record books with 15 blasts in her career.
Jana Matthews is also a familiar face for the Buccaneers in the all-time record books and the senior second baseman continues to march her way up in the all-time rankings, sitting in the top five in multiple categories. This season Matthews became the Bucs' all-time home run leader with 29 home runs and also tops the RBI category with 123 runs batted in. She also sits in the top five in at-bats (631, 4th), hits (163, 5th), doubles (33, 4th), runs (96, 5th), slugging percentage (.464, 3rd) and total bases (293, 3rd).
Sophomore right-hander Jennifer Giles continues to lead the way for CSU in the 2013 season, sitting as the Big South leader in innings pitched (165.2), appearances (34), games started (25) and complete games (18). The Jupiter, Fla. native sports a 5.32 earned run average on the season and picked up her third win of the season and first shutout of the year this week in the Wednesday opener against Canisius.
Liberty Flames Scouting Report
Liberty enters the weekend with a 15-16 record, 4-5 in Big South Conference play as the Flames begin a six game road trip with their weekend series against Charleston Southern.
The Flames come off a split in a doubleheader against Radford on Wednesday afternoon as Chandler Ball hurled a five-hit shutout in the opener, downing the Highlanders, 7-0. In the second game Radford's bats exploded as RU connected on five home runs in the contest to earn the split.
Liberty has shown a propensity to struggle on the road this season, sporting a 6-2 record inside the friendly confines of the Liberty Softball Field.
For the season, the bat of Katie Zavodny has paced the Flames offense as she enters the weekend carrying a 23 game hitting streak dating back to February 24 against East Carolina. The fleet-footed junior is also the team leader with 27 stolen bases on the year, hitting .377 from the plate with a team high 20 runs scored on the season.
Ball and Annah Jo Brittingham lead the Flames pitching efforts on the season with both Liberty pitchers picking up six wins apiece. Ball sports a 4.01 earned run average over the year in 82.0 innings pitched, while Brittingham is close behind with a 4.34 ERA with a team-high 52 strikeouts.