BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. - Charleston Southern clinched their third Big South softball series win of the season this weekend as the Buccaneers took victories in both games of Friday's doubleheader on the road against Gardner-Webb, winning in the opener 5-0 behind a shutout by freshman Cheyenne Gandara, while senior Morgan Dowdy battled the Bucs to a 2-1 victory in the nightcap at Varsity Field.
The Buccaneers improve to 22-29-1, 8-11 in Big South Conference play on the season following the pair of wins, while Gardner-Webb falls to 14-32, 4-14 overall in conference action with the loss.
Ari Tedesco and Lizzy Olmstead had three hits apiece for the Buccaneers on the afternoon to pace the CSU offense, while Natalie Yonan and Amanda Matsumoto had two RBI apiece as Charleston Southern looks to close out the weekend series tomorrow afternoon in the series finale at Varsity Field. First pitch between the Bucs and the Runnin' Bulldogs is set for 1 p.m.
Charleston Southern 5, Gardner-Webb 0
The Charleston Southern offense erupted for three runs in the top of the sixth inning as Amanda Matsumoto connected on a two-run single up the middle to provide CSU freshman ace Cheyenne Gandara all of the offense she needed in the contest as the Buccaneers held off the Runnin' Bulldogs on Friday afternoon, 5-0.
Gandara (8-10) scattered eight hits and battled through bases-loaded situations in both the fifth and sixth innings in completing her second shutout of the season and team-leading 10th complete game. The Hemet, Calif. native allowed two walks while striking out nine batters in the effort to pick up the win.
The Buccaneers broke the seal on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth inning as Georgi DeLio connected on a one-out double to left field with the ball eluding the diving GWU left fielder. An infield single by Lizzy Olmstead advanced her over to third base before Natalie Yonan brought her home on a fielder's choice to the shortstop to put the score at 1-0 in favor of the Bucs at the midway point in the game.
CSU added three runs to their lead in the sixth as Ari Tedesco led off the frame with a double down the right field line. A walk issued to DeLio put two runners on with none out and two batters later Yonan drove in her second RBI of the game with a single to left field, allowing Tedesco to cross the plate. Later in the inning, Matsumoto connected on a two-out single up the middle, scoring both DeLio and Yonan to put the Buccaneers advantage to 4-0.
Charleston Southern added their final run in the top of the seventh as Morgan Dowdy connected on a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Brooke Holcomb on the play to put the final margin at 5-0. Holcomb led off the inning with a single to centerfield and advanced to third on Stephanie Sbardella's team-leading 13th double of the season before coming home on the Dowdy sacrifice fly.
Gandara in the meantime, battled her way through bases-loaded situations in both the fifth and sixth innings as the freshman right-hander found a way to keep the Runnin' Bulldogs off the scoreboard.
With the bases loaded with one out in the fifth, Gandara managed to get an infield force at the plate for the second out before retiring Megan Gibbons on strikes to end the frame. The sixth inning saw her escape the jam with Samanthan Meenaghan popped up to Yonan at third base with two outs to end the GWU rally.
Gandara closed out the contest after allowing an infield single to Kellie Beres in the bottom of the seventh, setting down the next three batters in order to preserve the shutout and Buccaneers victory.
Jessica Childers suffered the loss for the Runnin' Bulldogs in the contest, allowing five runs and 11 hits in the game, while striking out four CSU batters.
Charleston Southern 2, Gardner-Webb 1
RBI singles by Lizzy Olmstead and Stephanie Sbardella put Charleston Southern on top in the nightcap at Varsity Field on Friday evening and Morgan Dowdy and Jennifer Giles shut the door on the Gardner-Webb offense late in the game as the Buccaneers took the second game of the series and clinched the win with the 2-1 victory.
Dowdy (3-5) picked up her third win of the season, going six innings while striking out one in the victory. The senior right-hander battled her way through allowing 10 hits in the game as the Buccaneers defense came up big several times during the contest, while Jennifer Giles came in relief in the seventh inning in picking up her first save of the season.
Gardner-Webb struck first in the contest, putting up a crooked number on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the first inning. Kellie Beres reached on a one-out single to left and stole second base to put herself in scoring position. A groundout advanced her over to third base before Mahaila Irvin brought her in with a single through the left side of the infield to put the score at 1-0 in favor of the Runnin' Bulldogs.
The Buccaneers evened the score in the top of the fifth inning as Ari Tedesco led off the inning with a single to right field. Hayes Holdsworth dropped down a sacrifice bunt and Tedesco alertly took third base on the play to put herself 60 feet from the plate with one out in the frame. Lizzy Olmstead came through for the Bucs with an RBI infield single to even the score at 1-1.
Charleston Southern's momentum from the fifth inning carried over into the sixth as Jessica Brock drilled her 11th double of the season into the left centerfield gap to put a runner on scoring position with one out in the frame. Sbardella capitalized on the run-scoring opportunity two pitches later, driving a single through the left side of the infield to allow Brock to score on the play, putting the Bucs ahead 2-1 with two innings to play.
Gardner-Webb rallied back in the bottom of the seventh as the Runnin' Bulldogs loaded the bases with none out. Savannah Burns and Jill Blank reached on back-to-back infield singles, chasing Dowdy from the contest and Megan Champion drew a walk from Giles to put GWU runners on all three bases before the CSU junior right-hander settled down. Giles struck out Meenaghan swinging and Beres looking, before getting Megan Gibbons to pop up to Brock at second to end the game and preserve the CSU 2-1 victory.
Ashley Rhyne suffered the loss for Gardner-Webb, allowing six hits and two runs while striking out three in the contest.