CHARLESTON, S.C. - Marci Christian connected on the walk-off home run in the first game and Melanie Stickney added a three-run blast on Senior Day as Charleston Southern split with Gardner-Webb on Saturday afternoon at the CSU Softball Field, winning 4-3 in the opener, while falling 7-4 in the nightcap.
Christian's blast in the bottom of the seventh gave the junior utility player the Charleston Southern single-season record, breaking the old record of 12 home runs set by Jana Matthews back in 2010, with her 13th home run clearing the fence down the left field line to give the Bucs the dramatic 4-3 win.
In between the games, Charleston Southern recognized their six 2013 softball seniors, Jasmine Conley, Courtney Konyk, Jana Matthews, Linzy Rother, Trea Steele and Melanie Stickney. The Bucs brought the seniors onto the field in the pirate ship, escorting the players to second base where they met with their parents at the beginning of the ceremony.
Charleston Southern moves to 1138, 4-17 in Big South Conference play with the split, while Gardner-Webb improves to 11-28, 6-15 overall in conference action with the series win.
The Buccaneers take a week off for exams, before making their final road trip of the regular season, traveling to Clinton, S.C. on May 4-5. First pitch in the scheduled doubleheader on Saturday against the Blue Hose is set for 1 p.m., while Sunday's final game also has first pitch slated for 1 p.m.
Game One: Charleston Southern 4, Gardner-Webb 3 (Box Score)
Christian connected on a 2-1 pitch with one out in the seventh inning, driving the ball over the left field fence to give the Buccaneers the walk-off 4-3 win in Saturday's opener, setting the Charleston Southern softball single season home run record in the process.
Jennifer Giles (7-27) picked up her seventh win of the season with the complete game, going the distance in scattering five hits. She allowed three runs (two earned), while striking out two in the game.
Jessica Childers (3-11) suffered the loss for the Runnin' Bulldogs, allowing six hits and four runs (two earned), while striking out six.
The Buccaneers broke a scoreless game in the bottom of the third, loading the bases with none out as Ari Tedesco led off the inning with a single, while Christian and Stephanie Sbardella drew back-to-back walks. Matthews plated the first run of the game, singling through the left side of the infield to score Tedesco. Two outs as the plate halted the Bucs rally though, as Christian was thrown out trying to score on the single, while the next play saw Sbardella thrown out trying to score on a passed ball, leaving the Bucs with the 1-0 lead after three innings.
Gardner-Webb and Charleston Southern traded two run frames in the sixth inning as the teams swapped the lead back and forth.
Melinda Dulkowski provided the big hit for the Runnin' Bulldogs in the frame, driving in Scarlett Harris and Morgan Baker with a one-out double to right centerfield, while Courtney Konyk and Rother came around to score on two errors by GWU in the bottom of the inning to give CSU the 3-2 advantage heading into the final inning.
Gardner-Webb tied the game up in the top of the seventh as Harris drove in Samatha Meenaghan on groundout to even the score at 3-3.
Following a popup by Tedesco to lead off the seventh, Christian's blast brought the CSU crowd to its feet as Charleston Southern took the 4-3 opening win.
Game Two: Gardner-Webb 7, Charleston Southern 4 (Box Score)
Melanie Stickney connected on a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning, but Gardner-Webb rallied with four runs in the top of the fifth, backed by Savannah Burns' two-run single as the Runnin' Bulldogs salvaged the series win with the 7-4 victory in the nightcap on Sunday afternoon.
Linzy Rother (3-10) suffered the loss for the Buccaneers in the game as the senior from Long Beach, Calif. went 4.0 innings, allowing 10 hits and seven runs in the loss. Jennifer Giles closed out the game, throwing the final three innings, allowing one hit while striking out two.
Ashley Rhyne (7-11) picked up her second win of the weekend with the complete game victory in the nightcap, allowing seven hits. The junior right-hander battled through a bout of wildness, allowing six walks, while striking out four in the win.
The Runnin' Bulldogs opened up the game plating a run in the first inning against Rother as the first two runners in the inning reached base as Samantha Meenaghan singled through the left side, while Kellie Beres reached on a throwing error on her sacrifice bunt attempt. Two batters later, Scarlett Harris singled in Meenaghan to put GWU ahead, 1-0.
CSU battled back to take the lead in the bottom of the first inning as the Buccaneers put two runners on with two outs in the inning. Stephanie Sbardella reached on a single up the middle and Rother drew a walk, paving way for Stickney to connect on the three-run blast, drilling her fourth home run of the season over the left field fence to give the Bucs the 3-1 lead.
Gardner-Webb rallied back, tying the game up by plating runs in both the second and third innings.
Melinda Dulkowski came around to score on Mariana Gallardo's sacrifice bunt attempt in the second inning, while Burns singled in Meenaghan in the third to knot the game up at 3-3.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Gardner-Webb sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth inning, using five hits to bring four runs across the plate in building the 7-3 lead.
Baker doubled in the first run, driving in Meenaghan with none out in the inning, while Burns drove in both Beres and Meenaghan with a two-run single to put the score at 6-3. Burns later came around to score on Jordyn Arrowood's fielder's choice, capping the Runnin' Bulldogs scoring in the game.
Charleston Southern rallied back in the bottom of the seventh inning, using their final at-bat to cut into the GWU lead as Sbardella and Matthews drew back-to-back walks to lead off the inning. With two outs, Courtney Konyk singled in Sbardella, dropping a shallow fly ball onto the grass in left centerfield to put the score at 7-4, but the margin remained as Rhyne retired the final batter in closing out the 7-4 win.