CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern earned a split on the first day of the series against Coastal Carolina on Tuesday afternoon, falling in the first game 4-3, while topping the Chanticleers in game two, 3-1, behind a two-run home run off the bat of Jennifer Giles.
Giles connected on the go-ahead two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth inning for the Buccaneers as the senior pitcher drilled the 0-1 offering from Coastal Carolina's Mackenzie Conrad over the centerfield fence for her first career home run. She closed out the game from the circle as well, finishing the final 2.2 innings inside the circle for her 12th win of the season.
"This has been a long time coming for Jen," commented CSU assistant coach Brandon Duncan. She has put in a lot of work and came in ready to pitch well today. Her mindset going in was just about keeping it simple and focusing on every pitch. She put herself in good counts and good situations and just pitched very well today."
It was a record-breaking day for the Bucs as three CSU records fell on the afternoon with Amanda Matsumoto breaking the CSU single season hits record, Marci Christian breaking the single season total base record and Giles breaking CSU's career strikeout record.
Matsumoto tied B.J. Charpia's record set in 1990 with her 70th hit of the season in the bottom of the first inning in game two. Matsumoto tied Charpia's record of 69 hits with a two-run double in the first contest of the day.
"Mats puts pressure on the defense just by stepping into the box," said Duncan. "Most teams tend to play her in for her speed, but she can hit it over your head and into the gap as well. Her speed is such an asset and we saw it key things for us today."
Christian broke her own record of total bases set in 2013. The redshirt senior came into the contest sitting tied with her record of 109 total bases, and the Arvonia, Va., native drew three walks and was hit by three pitches on the afternoon, recording just one at-bat over the two-game stretch.
"Marci saw a lot of respect pitching today at the plate," Duncan commented. "She is a great player and they weren't going to allow one player to beat them like Marci has the ability to do. She is one of the most dangerous hitters in the Big South and that was shown today."
However, the day belonged to Giles as the senior pitcher tied the career strikeout record set by Amanda Noble (403, 2004-07). Giles entered the afternoon with 400 career strikeouts and wasted little time in tying the record by striking out the side in the first inning. She broke the record in the top of the third inning by setting CCU's Annie Robinson on strikes and finished the afternoon with 10 strikeouts over the two game span.
"My mentality today was just completely different than it has been all season," said CSU senior pitcher Jennifer Giles. "I was completely confident today coming into the game and really felt like I was going to get the job done. Today we were in attack mode from the first pitch and I just went all out. I knew these are my last home games, so I figured, why not."
Known for her pitching ability, Giles also made the most of her first appearances at the plate today. In addition to her home run, she connected on a hard line drive in her first at-bat to the CCU right fielder. She also made her first appearance in the field today, making several running catches in right field.
On the home run ball she had to say, "I saw [the ball] and just thought to myself "please go over [the fence]. I was just so excited when I saw that it did; I couldn't believe it. It is definitely one of the highlights of my career. Playing the outfield was a little scary too, but I enjoyed it. My approach was simple: see it, hit it, and let's go. I didn't really have time to think about it more than that."
Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina close out the three-game midweek Big South Conference series tomorrow afternoon at the CSU Softball Field with first pitch set for 2 p.m.
Game One: Coastal Carolina 4, Charleston Southern 3
Kory Hayden drove in the go-ahead run for the Chanticleers in the top of the seventh and Kelsey Dominik battled through the CSU lineup in the bottom of the frame as Coastal Carolina took game one of the series, 4-3.
Jennifer Giles (11-13) went the distance in the contest for the Bucs, striking out eight in the loss. Giles scattered six hits in the game and four runs, but was troubled by wildness early with three walks and three hits-batsmen.
Dominik (12-7) matched her in the circle, allowing eight hits and three runs, striking out three in the complete game win.
Giles struck out the side in the first inning and retired the first five batters she faced before Dominik put the Chants on the scoreboard in the top of the second with a solo home run to right center.
The Bucs responded with two runs in the bottom of the frame to take the lead. Taylor Powell and Brook Richardson both reached on back-to-back one-out singles and Natalie Yonan drew a walk to load the bases. Matsumoto put the Bucs on the board slicing a double in the right centerfield gap scoring Powell and Richardson to put the Bucs up 2-1.
The Chants took the lead back in the top of the fifth on Annie Robinson's two-run home run. Sara Rasley opened the frame with a walk before Robinson connected on the first pitch from Giles, driving the ball over the fence in right centerfield to put the Chants back ahead, 3-2.
The Bucs tied the game up in the bottom of the sixth on Brittany McPherson's triple down the right field line scoring Cierra Robinson, before Hayden's late game sacrifice fly put the Chants ahead for good.
The Bucs threatened in the seventh with Yonan and Christian both reaching with one out, but the CCU defense held up as Coastal took the first game of the series.
Game Two: Charleston Southern 3, Coastal Carolina 1
Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina's pitching staffs stayed busy throughout the second game of the doubleheader as the teams combined to leave 20 runners on base, but Jennifer Giles put CSU ahead for good in the bottom of the fifth inning with her first collegiate home run as the Bucs earned the split on Tuesday afternoon.
Head Coach Shane Winkler utilized the pitching duo of Hayley Elkins and Giles (12-13) effectively on the afternoon as Elkins went four innings inside the circle, allowing four hits and one run while striking out five, while Giles hurled three innings of no-hit relief in taking the win.
Conrad (1-3) suffered the loss for the Chants despite allowing just three hits on the afternoon. The CCU hurler was plagued by wildness, hitting five CSU batters and walking five in the loss.
Morgan Noad connected on a solo home run in the top of the third inning off of Elkins to put the Chants in the lead as both teams pitched around trouble early in the contest.
The Bucs loaded the bases in both the third and fourth innings without scoring, before breaking through on one swing from Giles in the fifth. With two outs, Giles connected on the 0-1 offering from Conrad and drove the ball over the centerfield fence, scoring McPherson to give CSU the 2-1 lead.
CSU added a late insurance run in the bottom of the sixth as Stevi Johnson dropped down the suicide squeeze bunt allowing Matsumoto to score to put the Bucs ahead 3-1.
In the top of the seventh, Giles retired the side in order with Johnson catching Daneker's line drive in shallow right field to end the game.