SB Preview: Bucs host Winthrop in doubleheader Friday, single game Saturday in Big South weekend series

SB Preview: Bucs host Winthrop in doubleheader Friday, single game Saturday in Big South weekend series

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern returns home to the CSU Softball Field this weekend for a three-game set against Winthrop on Friday and Saturday in Big South Conference play. First pitch in Friday's doubleheader against the Eagles is set for 2 p.m., while Saturday's series finale is slated to start at 1 p.m. 

With high chances of rain on Saturday, the Buccaneers and the Eagles adjusted their weekend schedule around the Easter holiday as CSU and Winthrop will play their doubleheader on Friday afternoon now, while the single game will be played on Saturday afternoon. The weekend series kicks off a seven game home stand for the Bucs as CSU hosts Winthrop, College of Charleston and Liberty over the next nine days.

Home runs again led the way for the Bucs in their series against the Camels as Marci Christian, Cheyenne Gandara and Stevi Johnson all connected in CSU's wins. However, the biggest home runs of the week came off the bats of Natalie Yonan and Brooke Lein as the duo both hit go-ahead two-run shots leading to the final two CSU wins.

CSU Game Notes vs. Winthrop*

CSU took the season series from Winthrop last season at the WU Softball Complex, winning the first two games of the doubleheader behind home runs from Hayes Holdsworth and Stephanie Sbardella to open Big South play in 2014.

Winkler Against Winthrop...
Head Coach Shane Winkler is 12-9 all-time against Winthrop entering this week's series against the Eagles.

  • Charleston Southern took the season series from the Eagles last year in the Big South opener for both teams, winning the first two games, while falling in the third to the Eagles.
  • CSU is just 2-4 at home against Winthrop in the Winkler coaching era falling in all three games in the 2013 season, while taking two of three in 2010.
  • Hayes Holdsworth and Stephanie Sbardella both homered for the Bucs in CSU's two victories.
  • Cheyenne Gandara and Jennifer Giles hurled complete games in the Bucs' wins. 

Winkler against the Big South...
The Buccaneers are 59-71 against the Big South Conference all-time under Winkler including winning the 2014 Big South Championship.

  • CSU leads the all-time series against Winthrop, Presbyterian and Campbell.
  • The Buccaneers hold the all-time series lead over the Eagles, 12-9.
  • CSU leads the all-time series against Presbyterian dating back to the 2009 season, 17-6.
  • With CSU's sweep over Campbell this season, the Bucs lead the series 11-8-1.
  • CSU took series wins from Winthrop, Liberty and Gardner-Webb last season in Big South play with all three occuring on the road. 

Scouting the Eagles...
Winthrop enters the week with a 14-19 overall record on the season and an 0-5 record overall on the road this year, struggling in Big South Conference play on the season with a 3-5 record.

  • Winthrop fell in all three games to Coastal Carolina last weekend in their lone Big South road series on the year, getting shutout in the final two games of the series.
  • The Eagles are coming off of back-to-back wins over Gardner-Webb on Wednesday, defeating the Runnin' Bulldogs at home 4-3 and 3-1.
  • Maddie Antone leads the WU offense with a .388 batting average with nine doubles, three home runs and 20 RBI on the season. Leah Young leads the team on the base paths with 13 stolen bases.
  • Sara Allen (7-6), Dallas King (3-8) and Sutton Watson (3-5) have all seen extended time inside the circle for the Eagles this season with the staff combining for a 4.02 ERA.

Home Again, Home Again...
The Buccaneers have accumulated an impressive 17-6 record at home this season at the CSU Softball Field. The 17 wins have surpassed their total from last season with the Bucs posting a 15-16-1 overall record in 2014. Among the home highlights so far this season:

  • Amanda Matsumoto is hitting a team-best .472 from the plate with 34 hits and 27 runs scored. She also is a perfect 11-11 in stolen base attempts.
  • Cheyenne Gandara is hitting .431 with 28 hits and 27 RBI from the plate. Inside the circle she has posted a 11-4 record with 108 strikeouts in 82.0 innings.
  • Marci Christian has connected on a team-high 12 home runs with a 1.017 slugging percentage at CSU. She has a team-best 26 RBI at home.
  • Natalie Yonan (.350) has four doubles at home on the season including three against Youngstown State on March 10.
  • Jennifer Giles has posted a 5-2 record at home with four complete games and a shutout win over UMBC in her season debut on Feb. 7. 

The Last Five Games...
A lot can be told about a player and a team's last five games. The Bucs lineup is no exception with several players surging and excelling over the past five game stretch which includes games against Radford and Gardner-Webb.

  • Stevi Johnson has paced the CSU offense to the tune of a .462 batting average with seven hits, two doubles and two home runs over the past five games. Johnson has also scored six runs and driven in four RBI for the Bucs. 
  • Stephanie Baro continues to produce for the Bucs as the freshman third baseman is hitting .462 with six hits and eight RBI.
  • Cheyenne Gandara has four home runs and 11 RBI from the plate and a 1-0 record inside the circle over the past five games.
  • Marci Christian is hitting .385 with seven runs scored and two home runs, while drawing a team-high six walks.
  • Jennifer Giles leads the Bucs inside the circle with a 2-1 record and a 3.82 ERA with 11 strikeouts in the past 14.2 innings.
  • The Bucs have combined to hit 13 home runs as a team over the past five games with 36 RBI and 39 runs scored during the stretch.

Recapping Campbell…
The Buccaneers swept a three-game Big South Conference series for the first time since the 2012 season this week taking all three games against the Camels at Amanda Littlejohn Stadium over the Tuesday-Wednesday series. Last time the Bucs swept a three-game conference series was at Winthrop in the 2012 season.

  • Marci Christian's bat came to life in the series as the redshirt senior broke out of a brief power slump with a pair of home runs on Wednesday to propel to the Bucs to matching 4-2 wins. Christian finished the series with a team-high four runs scored and a 1.222 slugging percentage.
  • Stevi Johnson tied with Christian for the team lead with a .444 batting average on the week. The sophomore right fielder homered for the second straight series with a solo shot in the third game and added a double to her totals on the year.
  • Cheyenne Gandara and Christian went back-to-back in the first game of the series to extend the Bucs lead to 4-1 in the top of the third inning of CSU's eventual 4-2 victory. It was the third time this season the Bucs had connected on back-to-back home runs and the second time the CSU duo has done it this season.
  • Jennifer Giles picked up a pair of wins inside the circle on the week, winning the second and third games of the series to close out the Bucs sweep. She finished the midweek series with a 3.50 ERA with eight strikeouts in 10 innings.
  • Brooke Lein and Natalie Yonan both hit go-ahead two-run home runs for the Bucs against the Camels in the final two games of the series with Yonan's giving the Bucs a 4-2 lead in game two, while Lein's blast came in the top of the seventh to give CSU the 8-7 victory.