CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern battled back through a lightning-delay filled afternoon as the Buccaneers took game two of the doubleheader against Liberty on Saturday afternoon in splitting the series opener at the CSU Softball Field. Liberty took game one 9-0, while the Bucs rallied back to shutout the Flames in the nightcap, 5-0.
A 1:20 lightning delay in the middle of the third inning slowed the contest down in the second game of the afternoon, but the Buccaneers offense found a way to get it done in support of senior right-hander Jennifer Giles as the Bucs utilized an aggressive approach on the base paths in earning the split. The difference in the Bucs approach was evident at the start of the second game.
"It was a tale of two different teams and two different energies," commented CSU head coach Shane Winkler on the split. "Game two, the tone was basically set by Amanda Matsumoto's aggressive base-running in the first inning. We forced them to make mistakes and we jumped out on them. The bottom line was our energy was completely different."
Liberty took game one of the doubleheader behind a dominant three-hit complete game performance by Chandler Ball inside the circle. The redshirt junior was supported by 14 hits by the Flames offense with nine coming off of Giles in 3.1 innings as Liberty got to the CSU ace early.
Giles however, rebounded in the second game of the series for her first shutout of the season, scattering six hits while striking out five in the win.
"Jen is capable of being a very dominant pitcher in this conference," said Winkler. "We just have to find consistency; consistent starts and consistent innings from our entire team. We have the ability to be very good, but we also can be very bad. Staying in the moment, focusing on winning one pitch at a time and focusing on what's important now is key for us."
Known for hitting the long ball, CSU was kept inside the park this afternoon in the doubleheader with the lone home run over the afternoon coming off of the bat of Liberty's Tori Zavodny in the top of the sixth inning in game one. The Bucs utilized small ball with Matsumoto finishing the contest with two steals to raise her season total to 18 on the year in the win.
"We've talked about that all along on finding ways to win," Winkler said. "Whether it's the home run ball or getting a walk, we focus on finding a way to get on base with the bottom line being finding a way to get it done. After a bad outing in game one, we bounced back in game two. Now we're in a position to compete for the series."
With the threat of rain postponing today's scheduled Senior Day activities, the Buccaneers will instead recognize 2015 seniors Jennifer Giles and Marci Christian in a pregame ceremony tomorrow afternoon prior to first pitch against the Flames.
"Jen and Marci have been very special to this program," said Winkler. "Jen has won a lot of big games for us and has competed well against some top 25 teams. Marci in her two-plus years has set our record books on fire. She's rewritten most of it when talking about power. Our goal is to keep them playing as many games possible."
Game One: Liberty 9, Charleston Southern 0 (6 inn.)
Liberty scored every inning from the second through the sixth as the Flames jumped out early on CSU starter Jennifer Giles (10-10) in taking the opening victory. Chandler Ball hurled a complete game three-hit shutout, striking out seven in the win.
The Flames opened the scoring on Jamie Crisp's RBI single to left in the top of the second, while Katie Han's RBI infield single off of Giles' glove in the top of the third stake the Flames to the 2-0 lead.
Liberty broke the contest open in the top of the fourth with Kelby Allen driving in Alexia Taylor with an RBI double to right field. The Flames added two more runs in the frame, taking advantage of a CSU fielding miscue on the throw to first as Allen and Megan Robinson both crossed the plate.
Robinson and Jessica Cicerchia both added RBI hits later in the contest, while Zavodny drove out the day's lone home run to lead off the top of the sixth inning as the Flames took game one of the series, 9-0.
Game Two: Charleston Southern 5, Liberty 0
The Buccaneers plated two runs following a 1:20 lightning delay in the bottom of the third inning as Charleston Southern rallied to split the afternoon with the 5-0 win over the Flames.
Jennifer Giles (11-10) rebounded from a tough performance in the first game to hurl a complete game six-hit shutout, striking out five in the victory.
The Bucs struck in the bottom of the first inning as Amanda Matsumoto led off the frame with a single through the left side of the drawn-in infield. She stole second before Christian drew a full-count walk, putting two on with none out. A wild pitch from Liberty starter Kenzie Friesen (5-11) allowed both runners to advance, and the relay from Allen down to third base sailed into left field allowing Matsumoto to cross the plate for the first run of the contest.
The Bucs added two more in the bottom of the second as Christian and Stevi Johnson drew back-to-back bases loaded walks to put the Bucs ahead 3-0.
Following the delay, CSu scored their final runs in the bottom of the fourth as Johnson hustled down the baseline to beat out the infield single. During the confusion at first base, Brook Richardson and Matsumoto both scored to stake the Bucs to the 5-0 lead.
Giles pitched around trouble in the top of the sixth inning as the Flames loaded the bases on singles by Taylor, Zavodny and Kotchey. However, Giles was able to escape the jam in getting Blair Lawrence to groundout back up the middle to end the frame.
The Flames went down in order in the top of the seventh to close out the game.
Matsumoto, Johnson and Richardson combined for all six of the Bucs hits in the second game of the doubleheader with Johnson driving in three runs in the CSU win.