RADFORD, Va. - Charleston Southern connected on a school-record six home runs in the first game of the doubleheader to earn a split with Radford on the final day of the three-game series as the Buccaneers took game one 21-6, while falling in the afternoon game, 5-2.
Overall the Buccaneers (21-15, 3-3) connected on seven home runs on the day and set a new school record with 21 runs scored in the opening contest against the Highlanders (8-17, 4-4). Thanks to their hot start on the day in sending 16 batters to the plate and scoring 11 runs, CSU never trailed in game one.
"Game one showed what our offense is capable of," said CSU head coach Shane Winkler. "Obviously we don't expect to put up those types of numbers every game, but we do have that type of thunder in our lineup. It's great to see big things happen. Our focus coming into the day was winning every pitch and offensively we did that from the start."
Cheyenne Gandara connected on a school-record three home runs in the first game and added single game records in RBI (9) and run scored (5) as the sophomore pitcher homered in each of her first three at-bats to raise her season total to 14. Gandara connected on a two-run shot and a grand slam in the first inning and added a three-run blast in the top of the second to propel the Bucs to their game one win.
"Cheyenne's been swinging it well all year," said Winkler. "She had a few matchups today in the first game with their two pitchers that worked out really well for her. She squared the ball up and it was carrying at the park today. Obviously, she is a big part of our offensive success this season and we hope she can keep it up."
Stephanie Baro, Stevi Johnson and Georgi DeLio also homered for the Bucs on the day, but the biggest blast from the CSU lineup came from Jordan Evans as the freshman catcher sealed the CSU win with a grand slam in the top of the fifth inning. Evans' blast came in just her second collegiate at-bat after doubling last weekend against Gardner-Webb.
"Jordan's was fun," Winkler commented. "The girls enjoyed that one. That was the first home run of her entire life and that's something very exciting. Jordan doesn't see a lot of playing time for us, so for her to step up and do something big was great for her."
The Bucs pitching staff continued to struggle on the weekend though as CSU gave up 11 runs over the two contests. Hayley Elkins picked up the win in game one on the day hurling four innings in relief of starter Gandara, while Jennifer Giles suffered the loss in game two.
"Our pitchers are doing a good job of getting ahead of the hitters, but they haven't been able to put them away," Winker said. "We have a couple of strikeout pitchers who have got to do a better job of focusing on every single pitch. They're giving up a hit here or there, so their focus needs to be on the leadoff batter every inning and putting away the hitters when they have two strikes."
The Buccaneers have a quick turnaround time on the road this week as they make the trip to Buies Creek, N.C. and Amanda Littlejohn Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday to take on Campbell University in a three-game conference series. First pitch in Tuesday's doubleheader is set for 4 p.m., while Wednesday's series finale is set for 4 p.m.
"Going into Campbell, we'll focus on their pitchers," Winkler said about the upcoming series. "Our hitters have a chance to get really hot this week with a lot of at-bats coming up, but we've got to stay consistent in our approach. We'll practice Monday and start preparing. The rest of the season it's going to be about focusing on what we bring to the table and not worrying about what the other teams do to dictate the game. We've got to take care of ourselves.
Game One: Charleston Southern 21, Radford 6 (5 innings)
Charleston Southern sent 16 batters to the plate in the first inning and Cheyenne Gandara homered in each of her first three at-bats as CSU came out swinging in taking Saturday's opener against Radford, 21-6.
Gandara drilled a two-run shot in her first at-bat and followed it up with a grand slam later in the first inning as the Bucs scored 11 runs in the frame to take a commanding lead early. She added a three-run shot in the top of the second to finish the contest with a CSU record three home runs and nine RBI in the game to pace the Bucs efforts. Gandara also tied a CSU record with five runs scored in the game.
Jordan Evans also connected on a grand slam for the Bucs in the top of the fifth inning to cap the scoring as the CSU freshman drilled the 1-1 offering from Radford reliever Tiffany Brown over the fence in left centerfield for her first collegiate home run. Evans is currently 2-for-2 on the season with a double last weekend against Gardner-Webb.
Stephanie Baro and Stevi Johnson both added three-run home runs in the game as the Bucs scored a program-record 19 runs off of home runs in the contest. Baro added an RBI single while Brittany McPherson scored on a Radford error to account for all of the Bucs runs in the contest.
Hayley Elkins (2-0) was the recipient of the CSU offensive onslaught in the contest, coming in relief of starter Gandara in going the final four innings of the game. Elkins allowed six hits and six runs (five earned), while striking out two in her second collegiate victory.
Maggie Rowe had a two-run shot for Radford in the game as the teams combined for seven home runs on a calm day at the RU Softball Field.
Taylor Asimakopoulos (3-2) suffered the loss for the Highlanders after getting roughed up in 0.1 innings, allowing three hits and five runs while walking two. Brown went the final 4.2 frames in allowing 11 hits and 16 runs (nine earned) while walking seven.
The Bucs jumped on the Highlanders from the beginning with Gandara drilling a one-out two-run shot to right centerfield to put CSU ahead 2-0 early in the first inning. By the time the Highlanders recorded their second out, CSU led 5-0 thanks to Baro's three-run shot scoring Stevi Johnson and Stephanie Bergmann. Gandara added her first career grand slam later in the frame and Baro had an RBI single scoring Johnson as CSU lead 11-0 after the top of the first.
Radford rallied for five runs in the bottom of the third with Becky Mantel driving in two with a double and Maggie Rowe connecting on a two-run blast off Elkins as the Highlanders attempted to fight their way back into the contest.
Johnson answered for the Bucs in the top of the fourth with a three-run shot to straightaway centerfield scoring Gandara and Elkins to put CSU ahead 17-5.
Summer Robinson drove in a run with an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth, but Evans sealed the CSU victory with a line drive just to the left of the scoreboard in left field driving in Gandara, Elkins and Taylor Powell to cap the scoring and give the Bucs the 21-6 victory.
Game Two: Radford 5, Charleston Southern 2
Two-run home runs by Mackenzie Blackwell and Maggie Rowe offset Charleston Southern scoring in the first two innings as the Highlanders won the rubber match in taking the season series from the Bucs with the 5-2 victory.
CSU went ahead in the first inning as Stephanie Baro dropped an RBI single down the right field line scoring Marci Christian to put the Bucs up 1-0.
Georgi DeLio made it 2-0 with one swing to lead off the top of the second against the Highlanders before Kelsey Weddle (2-3) was able to shut down the Bucs offense the rest of the way.
The Bucs managed one hit after the second inning as Amanda Matsumoto reached on a bunt single in the top of the seventh, as Weddle went the distance in allowing five hits and two runs in the complete game victory.
Blackwell put the Highlanders on the board with a two-run shot with two outs in the bottom of the second, while Nia Chiles scored on Casey Burns' single in the bottom of the third to give Radford their first lead of the day.
Rowe plated two late insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth for the Highlanders off of CSU reliever Gandara with a two-run shot over the fence in left field to cap the scoring.
Jennifer Giles (6-7) suffered the loss in the contest after going the first 4.2 innings of the game in allowing four hits and three runs while striking out three. Gandara went the final 1.1 while allowing the Rowe home run. She also struck out one batter.