CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern opens up the 2015 season at home in the first of four CSU Tournaments the Buccaneers will be hosting at the CSU Softball Field this spring. This week's tournament field features UMBC, Southern Illinois and Ohio State with CSU's 2015 home opener scheduled for February 6th against UMBC.
The Buccaneers were picked fourth overall in the Big South Conference Preseason Poll after winning the 2014 Big South Conference Tournament and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. CSU went undefeated in the conference tournament led by Tournament MVP Cheyenne Gandara and topped Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C., 3-1, to advance to the Knoxville Regional.
CSU will host teams from the Big Ten, the America East, the Missouri Valley, the Mid-American, the Horizon League, the Colonial Athletic Association, the Mid-Eastern Athletic and the Ohio Valley Conference over their four week tournament run starting on February 6 and running through March 7.
Winkler Against the Tournament Field...
Head Coach Shane Winkler is 1-0 all-time against the CSU Tournament Field this weekend as the Bucs' head coach enters his seventh season in the dugout with CSU. Winkler and the Bucs topped UMBC back on February 25, 2012, 4-0, behind strong performances from the plate by Trea Steele and inside the circle by Linzy Rother to defeat the Retrievers. The Bucs have not lined up against Southern Illinois or Ohio State under Winkler.
*UMBC was picked to finish fifth in the America East in annual coaches' preseason poll, despite the Retrievers returning to the four-team America East Championships last season for the first time since 2011.
*The Retrievers registered a 20-win improvement from the 2013 season and saw head coach Joe French earn his 600th career softball coaching victory in 2014.
*UMBC returns America East All-Conference First Team selections Taylor Hall and Danielle O'Neill to the lineup. Hall was the league's batting champion last season, hitting at .397, with 14 home runs and 51 runs batted in.
Scouting Southern Illinois...
*Lost five positional starters from last year's 28-24 team (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, LF) but return 4 of top 5 hitters
*Return top pitcher (Katie Bertelsen was 2nd-team All-MVC last year); 2nd pitcher is expected to be freshman Savanna Dover
*Shaye Harre was 2nd-team All-MVC as a freshman after hitting .329 overall and .368 in MVC play
*SS Kelsey Gonzalez hit .328 last year after hitting .210 as a freshman the year before
*Team has good eye—has led the MVC in walks for five-straight seasons
Scouting Ohio State...
*Ohio State returns two First Team All-Big Ten outfielders in Taylor Watkins and Cammi Prantl. Watkins batted a team-best .361 with seven HR and 10 doubles; Prantl hit .329 and added 35 RBI, 34 runs scored and 16 doubles.
*In the circle, the Buckeyes' top pitcher, Olivia O'Reilly, also returns in 2015. O'Reilly led the team with 17 wins and a 3.02 ERA in 2014.
*In 2014, the Buckeyes closed the team by winning 10 of its final 12 games, including a 7-5 upset of second-seeded Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.
Scouting Charleston Southern...
*CSU won the 2014 Big South Conference Championships, making their way to the program's first NCAA Tournament. The Bucs played in the 2014 NCAA Tournament Knoxville Regional against Virginia Tech, Lipscomb and Tennessee.
*Sophomore Cheyenne Gandara was named the 2014 Big South Tournament MVP after going 3-0 in the tournament, including a 3-1 win over Coastal Carolina in the Championship Game.
*Charleston Southern was selected fourth in the Big South Preseason Poll this season, receiving one first place vote and 51 votes overall.
Winkler against the America East...
The Buccaneers are 2-1 against the America East over the past seven years under head coach Shane Winkler having taken on Maine and Stony Brook in 2011 and UMBC previously in 2012. The Bucs picked up wins over Maine and UMBC, while falling to Stony Brook.
Mar. 11, 2011 Maine W, 6-3
Mar. 12, 2011 Stony Brook L, 8-3
Feb. 25, 2012 UMBC W, 4-0
Winkler against the Big Ten...
The Buccaneers are 0-2 against the Big Ten Conference under Winkler in the past seven years, taking on both Michigan State and Wisconsin in the 2012 season.
Mar. 2, 2012 Wisconsin L, 3-2 (8 inn.)
Mar. 9, 2012 Michigan State L, 4-3
Winkler against the Missouri Valley...
The Buccaneers are 1-2 against the Missouri Valley Conference under Winkler as CSU first took on the MVC for the first time under their current head coach in the 2014 season against both Wichita State and Northern Iowa in the Unconquered Classic hosted by Florida State. The Bucs split against Wichita State, while falling to UNI.
Feb. 21, 2014 Wichita State L, 3-2
Feb. 22, 2014 Wichita State W, 3-2
Feb. 22, 2014 Northern Iowa L, 9-4