FULLERTON, Calif. - Charleston Southern split on the first day of the Easton Tournament, falling to Nebraska in the first contest, 8-3, while topping DePaul in the nightcap at Anderson Field, 4-2.
The Bucs welcomed back NCAA home run leader Marci Christian to the lineup on the afternoon after missing the past four games due to injury and the senior first baseman made her presence known with the game-clinching double in the Bucs win against DePaul.
Cheyenne Gandara picked up her second save of the season against the Blue Demons and continued to climb up the NCAA home run rankings with a solo shot in the tournament opener against Nebraska. The sophomore pitcher drilled her 11th home run of the season, moving her into a tie for third according to the last posted NCAA rankings, sitting one behind Christian and Washington's Courtney Gano.
Jennifer Giles picked up the win against the Blue Demons to improve her individual record to 5-5 on the season. The Bucs improved to 17-11 overall with the split on Friday.
Amanda Matsumoto continued her hitting streak with singles against both Nebraska and DePaul, improving the streak to seven games.
Charleston Southern continues the Easton Tournament tomorrow at Anderson Field as the Bucs take on Boise State in the day's opener, while finishing up the two-day event against host Cal State Fullerton in the last game of the day. First pitch between the Bucs and the Broncos is set for 1 p.m. EDT, while the Bucs take on the Titans at 11 p.m. EDT.
Game One: Nebraska 8, Charleston Southern 3
MJ Knighten homered twice and drove in five runs for the Cornhuskers as Nebraska held off Charleston Southern in the Bucs' first game of the Easton Tournament on Friday afternoon.
Cheyenne Gandara (11-6) connected on her 11th home run of the season from the plate and had two of CSU's six hits, but the Huskers tagged the sophomore right-hander for seven runs in 3.1 innings to hand the Bucs their third straight loss.
Freshman Hayley Elkins pitched effectively in relief for the Bucs closing out the final 2.2 innings with two strike outs, while surrendering a solo home run to Knighten in the bottom of the sixth.
The Cornhuskers took the 7-0 lead after the fourth inning as Nebraska scored three in the third and four in the fourth frame at Anderson Stadium.
Knighten doubled to left centerfield driving in two in the bottom of the third, while Alicia Armstrong added an RBI double in the frame. In the fourth, Kiki Stokes brought in two with a single to right before Knighten put the Huskers ahead 7-0 with a two-run shot to left field.
The Bucs battled back with two runs in the top of the fifth as CSU loaded the bases with one out. Gandara and Stevi Johnson connected on back-to-back RBI singles scoring Amanda Matsumoto and Natalie Yonan to put the score at 7-2 after five innings.
Knighten tallied the final Nebraska run with a two-out solo shot to left center, while Gandara answered by leading off the top of the seventh with a solo shot of her own for the final run in the contest.
Matsumoto picked up her team-leading 11th stolen base in the contest in the top of the third. She is 11-for-11 on the season in stolen base attempts, sitting one behind her previous single season high of 12 set last year.
Game Two: Charleston Southern 4, DePaul 2
Charleston Southern took advantage of three unearned runs to support Jennifer Giles' (5-5) starting effort, while Marci Christian connected on the clinching RBI double in the bottom of the sixth as the Buccaneers topped the Blue Demons at Anderson Field, 4-2.
Christian went 2-for-4 from the plate and Stephanie Baro had a two-run single for the Bucs offense as CSU pitched around fielding woes of their own in the game. CSU committed three errors in the field, but Giles and Gandara were able to escape the damage in closing out the Bucs' second road win of the 2015 season.
Like they have in many of their victories this season, CSU jumped out to an early lead as the Bucs went up 2-0 after the first inning. Matsumoto and Gandara reached on singles for the Bucs and after a fielder's choice on Johnson's at-bat loaded the bases, Baro delivered with a two-run single to right center.
DePaul answered with a runs in the top of the third and fourth to tie the game up at 2-2. Morgan Maize drew a bases-loaded walk for the first Blue Demons' run, while Staci Bonezek scored on the rare steal of home plate in the fourth to knot the game up at 2-2.
The Bucs broke the tie in the bottom of the fourth as Brooke Lein crossed the plate on a DePaul error on Christian's hard hit shot to the third baseman.
Gandara entered the circle in the fifth for the Bucs and pitched out of trouble leaving a combined five runners on base in the fifth and sixth before Christian plated an insurance run for CSU in the bottom of the sixth. The senior first baseman drilled a two-out double into the left center gap scoring Cierra Robinson to double the Bucs' lead at 4-2.
The Bucs held the Blue Demons scoreless in the seventh as Gandara closed out her second save of the season.
Giles went 4.0 innings, allowing four hits and two runs in the game. Gandara went the final three in scattering three hits while striking out three.
Lein, in addition to scoring the go-ahead run in the fourth inning, went a perfect 2-for-2 from the plate.