CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern went 2-0 on the first day of the CSU Softball Tournament on Friday afternoon, topping Delaware in the early afternoon 6-2 and Howard in the nightcap 8-0 behind the arms of Jennifer Giles, Gandara and Hayley Elkins and the bats of Cheyenne Gandara, Georgi DeLio and Marci Christian.
"It all started in the circle today," said CSU head coach Shane Winkler. "We scored 14 runs, and that is a lot, but it all started in the circle. Jen, Cheyenne, and Hayley all pitched well today in their outings and they gave us opportunities to win."
The Bucs pitching staff was strong throughout the day as the trio allowed 10 hits and two runs over the 12 innings, while striking out 13. Gandara and Elkins picked up their third and first respective wins of the season as CSU continues a strong start to the 2015 season in improving to 5-1 on the year.
"Last weekend was a foundation to build off of," Winkler commented. "We played some good teams and got some good results. However, we are still just focused in on the next 200 feet in front of us. We've faced some good pitchers so far and we've made the adjustments and need to continue to do so."
The Buccaneers pitching strength was emphasized today in the circle, but the power bats in the lineup also shown as Gandara and DeLio both connected on their second home runs of the season, while Christian hit her third of the year in the win against Howard.
"We knew one of our biggest strengths was going to be our pitching this year," said Winkler. "At the same time, we also knew we were going to be strong with our ability to score one run with one swing of the bat. We have the ability with seven or eight hitters in our lineup to hit the ball out of the park. We won't always sit back and play for the two-run home run, but so far we've been getting it and our hitters are hot. When we need to, we'll be able to manufacture runs, but right now we've been able to square up on some balls and we've been successful because of it."
Elkins in particular stood out in her first collegiate appearance in the 2015 season. The Dutch Fork, S.C. native hurled a complete game shutout in the nightcap against Howard and made the most of her opportunity against the Bison.
"Hayley is going to have a big future for us," Winkler said. "She throws extremely hard and has a lot of talent. It was nice to get her out there and get that debut win. She worked ahead of batters and her defense played well behind her to get the win today."
Charleston Southern closes out the CSU Tournament tomorrow afternoon hosting Delaware with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. at the CSU Softball Field and Toledo immediately afterward.
Game One: Charleston Southern 6, Delaware 2
Cheyenne Gandara (3-1) picked up her third win of the season inside the circle coming in relief of CSU senior Jennifer Giles and the sophomore hurler added two RBI from the plate as the Buccaneers pulled away from the Blue Hens late in their first game on the weekend.
Charleston Southern plated three runs in the bottom of the sixth after Delaware closed the gap in the top of the fifth with an RBI single from Leanna Gearhart. Amanda Matsumoto connected on a two-out, two-run triple to extend the CSU lead and the CSU sophomore outfielder came around to score on Taylor Powell's RBI single to put the game away late.
Gandara closed out the game allowing one run and four hits over the final four innings in her third win of the season. She struck out the side in the top of the fourth on her way to seven strikeouts in the contest.
Giles went the first three innings for the Bucs, scattering three hits while striking out two in the no decision. The senior right-hander battled out of trouble in the top of the second before leaving with the 3-1 lead.
CSU struck first on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning as Gandara put the Bucs up with a two-run double down the right field line. The double, her third of the season, brought in both Matsumoto and Marci Christian to stake CSU to the 2-0 lead against Delaware starter Jordan Cargile (0-1).
The Blue Hens and Bucs swapped runs in the second as Shelby Jones singled in Mariah Kondravy in the top half of the inning, while CSU answered with Christian's RBI single to left driving in Brook Richardson in the bottom half of the frame.
Both pitching staffs traded zeros on the scoreboard with Gandara and Delaware's Kennedy Lester entering the game in the fourth inning.
Gearhart's single in the top of the fifth closed the gap to 3-2 but the Bucs put the game away in their final at-bats.
Matsumoto's triple to right center scored Richardson and Natalie Yonan to give CSU the 5-2 lead. Two batters later Powell connected on her first collegiate hit as she beat out an infield single allowing Matsumoto to score to stretch the lead to 6-2.
Gandara retired the side in the seventh to end the contest with Richardson making a diving catch in foul territory down the left field line for the final out of the game.
Matsumoto, Gandara and Richardson led the CSU offense with two hits apiece in the game, while Matsumoto and Gandara both had two RBI.
Game Two: Charleston Southern 8, Howard 0 (5 inn.)
CSU's big bats came alive in the second game in support of freshman hurler Hayley Elkin's first collegiate start as the Dutch Fork, S.C. native hurled a three-hit shutout against the visiting Bison in the nightcap of the first day.
Elkins (1-0) retired nine of the first 10 batters on her way to scattering three hits while striking out four in the win. She retired the side in order in the second, third and fifth innings in the victory.
For the second time in as many weekends, Georgi DeLio and Gandara both connected on home runs in the same game while Christian capped the Bucs win with a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth to pace the Bucs to their fourth mercy-rule win of the season.
DeLio started the CSU offense in the bottom of the first, following up Gandara's two-out walk with a blast over the fence in straightaway centerfield to put the Bucs ahead early.
CSU added five in the bottom of the second as the Bucs sent nine batters to the plate with Gandara providing the big fly with a two-run shot over the left centerfield fence scoring Matsumoto. Natalie Yonan added an RBI double in the right centerfield gap, while two runners scored on an errant throw by the Howard centerfielder into the CSU dugout to stretch CSU's cushion to 7-0 after two innings.
The Bison threatened to score in the top of the fourth as Howard loaded the bases against Elkins with three infield singles. However, she escaped the jam as Jenny Ly popped up to shortstop and Elkins and DeLio caught Alex Flynn attempting to steal home on an errant pitch before Jasmine Gammons struck out to end the frame.
Christian connected on a two-out home run to left field for her team-leading third home run of the season in the bottom of the fourth and Elkins retired the final three batters on strikes to close out the victory.
Gandara and DeLio had two RBI apiece in the game and Gandara scored twice to lead the Bucs.