CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern returns to the postseason this weekend as CSU makes the trip to Buies Creek, N.C. and Amanda Littlejohn Stadium for the 2015 Big South Championships starting on Thursday afternoon. The No. 5 Bucs will take on No. 4 Liberty in the first round with first pitch set for noon.
CSU is the reigning Big South Champion after going 4-0 last season during their tournament run in becoming the first Big South No. 7 seed to advance and win the Championship Game. The Bucs' 2014 season ended in the Knoxville Regional of the NCAA Tournament, falling to No. 10 Tennessee and Lipscomb.
The Bucs topped Longwood (twice), Presbyterian and Coastal Carolina in the postseason last year and have made the Championship Game in two of the past three years. CSU has also won at least two Big South Tournament games every year since the 2012 season, winning three or more in the 2012 and 2014 years.
CSU has been led on the season by Big South Player of the Year candidate Marci Christian, who sits among the NCAA leaders in home runs and RBI, while senior pitcher Jennifer Giles has stood out in postseason play in each of the past two years.
The first two days of the Big South Tournament will be streamed live on the Big South Network, while the final two day, including Sunday afternoon's Big South Championship will be streamed live on ESPN3.
Winkler in the Big South Tournament...
Head Coach Shane Winkler is 13-10 all-time in the Big South Conference postseason, winning at least one game every season since his coaching debut at Charleston Southern in the 2009 season.
- Winkler has won at least two games in the tournament in each of the past two seasons and has won two games in the postseason four times over his seven seasons with the Bucs.
- He has coached the Bucs to two conference championship games, falling to Coastal Carolina in the Championship in 2012, while topping the Chanticleers last season in Conway, S.C. for the NCAA automatic berth.
- The Bucs have run-ruled two opponents in Big South Tournament play under Winkler with both coming in the 2012 season. CSU topped Liberty 14-3 and Gardner-Webb 8-0 during the stretch.
- The Bucs have won nine games in the Big South Tournament over the past three seasons.
Winkler against the Big South...
The Buccaneers are 64-80 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, 16-11.
- CSU leads the all-time series against Presbyterian dating back to the 2009 season, 17-10.
- With CSU's sweep over Campbell this season, the Bucs lead the series 11-8-1.
- CSU took series wins from Winthrop, Gardner-Webb, Campbell and Coastal Carolina this season.
Bucs Big South Tournament Results (Current BSC Members)
Charleston Southern has faced off against each member of the 2015 Big South Tournament Field during program history and are coming off of wins against six of the eight opponents in the field.
- CSU has faced Winthrop and Coastal Carolina 14 times in the postseason, while taking on Radford 12 times in Big South Conference Tournament play.
- The Bucs have losing records against five Big South opponents in the postseason, but are coming off of wins against Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb, Liberty, and Longwood in their last postseason matchup.
- CSU and tournament host Campbell have not met in the postseason since 1992, with the Bucs proving the victor in the matchup, 2-1.
- The Bucs have posted a winning record in Big South postseason play against Presbyterian and Longwood, topping both opponents last season on their way to the Big South tournament title.
W-L First Meeting Last Meeting Result
Campbell 1-1 1991 1992 W, 2-1
Coastal Carolina 5-9 1998 2014 W, 3-1
Gardner-Webb 2-3 2009 2012 W, 8-0
Liberty 2-6 1999 2012 W, 14-3
Longwood 2-1 2013 2014 W, 7-2
Presbyterian 4-0 2010 2014 W, 4-3
Radford 4-8 1993 2011 L, 9-1
Winthrop 2-12 1989 2013 L, 2-1
Cheyenne Gandara took 2014 Big South Tournament MVP honors last season as her weekend performance capped off one of the best pitching stretches in Charleston Southern history.
- The fire-balling right-hander hurled a complete game victory in the tournament opener against No. 2 Longwood, guiding the Bucs past the Lancers with eight strikeouts in the 5-2 win.
- She came in the next night to shut the door against No. 6 Presbyterian and keep CSU in the winner's bracket, bouncing back from allowing a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to strike out the final three batters of the game to preserve the Bucs 4-3 win over the Blue Hose.
- Saturday's game against Longwood, she entered in the bottom of the fourth to shut down a bases-loaded rally against the Lancers. She set down the final 10 batters in order over the last 3.1 innings for her second win of the tournament.
- The tournament finale, in her signature performance to date, she battled through the first five innings before retiring the final eight batters to shut down the Chanticleers and set the Buccaneers dancing on the CCU Softball Field.
Former freshmen Cheyenne Gandara, shortstop Stephanie Bergmann, centerfielder Amanda Matsumoto and graduated senior Stephanie Sbardella all earned Big South All-Tournament team honors last season for the Bucs led by Gandara's MVP performance in the tournament.
- Bergmann secured the final out in catching a line drive up the middle to start the celebration inside the circle. She also hit a team-high .500 from the plate with two doubles for the Bucs.
- Matsumoto led the Bucs with seven hits and set a Big South Tournament freshman record with hits in her first four at-bats in garnering the honors.
- Sbardella hit .400 from the plate with six hits and a team-high four runs scored while adding a home run against Presbyterian, lining up all four games at first base for CSU in the tournament.
NCAA Tournament Bid in the Books...
CSU advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history last year, advancing to the Knoxville Regional against host Tennessee, Lipscomb and Virginia Tech on May 16-19.
- The Bucs opened up their tournament run with a 12-3 loss to Tennessee in the tournament opener, 12-3.
- CSU was eliminated on the second day, falling to Lipscomb, 4-2.
- Sophomore catcher Georgi DeLio led the Bucs with three hits and two RBI, while graduated senior Jessica Brock had three hits to cap the most successful season in Buccaneer softball history.
11 different CSU players have connected on home runs this season led by Marci Christian's 23 home runs this year. Seven different players have also connected on their first collegiate home runs of their career this year.
- Stephanie Baro (4): First collegiate HR vs. Ohio State, Feb. 8
- Marci Christian (23): First HR of the season vs. S. Illinois, Feb. 7
- Georgi DeLio (4): First HR of the season vs. Ohio State, Feb. 8
- Cheyenne Gandara (16): First collegiate HR vs. Ohio State, Feb. 8
- Stevi Johnson (4): First HR of the season vs. Tennessee Tech, Feb. 22
- Brooke Lein (2): First collegiate HR vs. N.C. A&T, Feb. 20
- Brittany McPherson (2): First collegiate HR vs. Marshall, Feb. 28
- Hayley Elkins (1): First collegiate HR vs. Gardner-Webb, Mar. 21
- Jordan Evans (1): First collegiate HR vs. Radford, Mar. 29
- Natalie Yonan (1): First HR of the season vs. Campbell, Mar. 31
- Jennifer Giles (1): First collegiate HR vs. Coastal Carolina, April 21.
The number 33 is Charleston Southern's program high wins for a single season set back in 2012 as the Buccaneers went 33-26 in making it all the way to the Big South Conference Tournament Championship Game. CSU is at 29 wins this season and looking to break the 30 win mark for the third time under CSU head coach Shane Winkler, and just the fifth time in program history.
- 33 wins: Reached in 2012 with the Bucs advancing to the Big South Championship Game.
- 32 wins: Reached in the first season in CSU softball history in 1988 under Hall of Famer Howard Bagwell.
- 32 wins: Reached in 1990 in Bagwell's final season in the Blue and Gold
- 30 wins: Reached by Winkler in just his second season with the Buccaneers as CSU went 30-28-1 with a Big South series win over Winthrop.