CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern and Presbyterian College open up Big South Conference play on ESPN3 this weekend as the Buccaneers and the Blue Hose meet in a three-game series scheduled to start on Saturday afternoon at the Buccaneer Softball Field.
The first game of the series is set for Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. and will be streamed online on ESPN3 with Mike Hogewood and Nate Ross calling the action from the CSU Softball Field in the first of five regular season softball games the Big South Conference will stream live on the ESPN platforms this spring.
The Buccaneers will complete Saturday's doubleheader against the Blue Hose with the projected start time of game two at 3:30 p.m., while CSU and PC will close out the weekend with a single game slated for Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Charleston Southern enters the weekend back to .500 on the season as the Buccaneers come off of a three-game sweep over Rider at the CSU Softball Field during the midweek series against the Broncs. CSU improved to 16-16-1 overall on the year with the trio of wins over the Broncs, snapping a three game skid that spanned the series finale of the Winthrop series and both games of the Longwood doubleheader.
Charleston Southern enters the weekend with a 2-3 record in Big South Conference play, taking two of three last week from Winthrop, before falling in both games on Saturday against Longwood.
The Buccaneers pitching staff took center stage during the Rider series as all four CSU members on the staff saw action inside the circle for head coach Shane Winkler. Jennifer Giles picked up a pair of wins over the Broncs, while Morgan Dowdy recorded her second win of the season on the rubber against Rider.
Jessica Brock continues to lead the Buccaneers from the plate as the senior first baseman from Puyallup, Wash., paces the CSU efforts with a .330 batting average with 34 hits, nine doubles, four home runs and 21 RBI on the season. Brock connected on a pair of home runs in the first game last weekend against Longwood and has provided a steady bat at the top of the lineup for Winkler on the season.
Fellow senior Stephanie Sbardella is also hitting above .300 on the year and has reached base safely in 27 of the 33 games this season in hitting .301 overall from the plate this year. The Fairfax Station, Va., native is second on the team with 28 hits and eight doubles, while driving in 14 RBI and scoring 10 times. Against Rider, Sbardella went 4-for-7 from the plate with a double and three RBI, while drawing five walks against the Broncs.
Junior Jennifer Giles and freshman Cheyenne Gandara have taken over the primary roles inside the circle on the season for Charleston Southern with Giles leading the team with a 7-5 record and a 2.08 ERA on the year. Opponents are also hitting .227 against her on the season and the junior ace has thrown three complete games on the year.
Gandara is second on the team in the wins category with six victories on the season and has pitched the most innings on the rubber with 85.2 innings on the year. The freshman has carried a no-hitter against #3 UCLA into the fifth inning and a second no-hit bid into the sixth against Longwood last season, and leads CSU with 86 strikeouts on the year, while boasting a 2.61 ERA.
Last season Charleston Southern took all three games from Presbyterian, including knocking the Blue Hose out in the first round of the Big South Conference Tournament in Rock Hill, S.C., as the Bucs topped the Blue Host by scores of 7-6, 7-5 and 7-2.
The Blue Hose enter the week boasting a 14-11 record, 0-2 in Big South Conference play as Presbyterian fell to Winthrop in a doubleheader on Thursday night snapping a streak that saw PC win eight of nine dating back to doubleheader sweeps of Georgia State and North Carolina Central.
Thursday night's action featured a common conference opponent between the two schools as the Bucs took two of three from the Eagles last week, while Winthrop topped PC 4-3 and 9-5 in Clinton, S.C.
The Blue Hose have been led at the plate on the season by the duo of Kersten Legacki and Jill McLean. Legacki leads the way for PC with six home runs and a .387 batting average, while also recording a team-high 29 hits and 24 RBI at the plate. McLean has been the speedster on the base paths with six stolen bases and four triples on the year while hitting .352 from the plate. She also leads the team with 22 runs scored on the season.
Presbyterian boasts a four-deep pitching staff on the roster as well with Natasha Sherrod, Sydney Seiger, Katie Brown and Kensley Loudermelk all potentially going to see time inside the circle this weekend for head coach Kama Tucker. Sherrod boasts the lowest ERA on the year at 1.58, while Seigler leads the team with eight wins and six complete games on the rubber. Opponents are only hitting .254 on the season against Brown, while Loudermelk has seen action in 11 games, earning six starts.