CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern opens up the 2016 season at home with the Willie Jewell's Invitational at CSU as the Buccaneers host IPFW, Towson and Georgetown for the two day event at the CSU Softball Field. The Bucs will host Towson and IPFW on Friday afternoon, while taking on Georgetown and IPFW on Saturday afternoon.
This weekend marks the first games of a 15 game homestand for the Buccaneers to open the season as CSU will be at the CSU Softball Field for the entire month of February. The Bucs will be hosting three CSU Softball Tournaments during the span, while also hosting College of Charleston for a midweek contest on February 24th.
The Buccaneers are coming off of their second straight trip to the Big South Championship semifinals and were selected third overall in the Big South Conference preseason coaches' poll as announced by the conference office in January. Junior pitcher/utility player Cheyenne Gandara was selected runner-up in both the Preseason Player and Pitcher of the Year categories, while fellow junior Amanda Matsumoto was picked on the College Sports Madness Preseason First Team.
Scouting Charleston Southern...
*Charleston Southern enters the opening weekend of the 2016 season after getting voted third in the Big South preseason coaches poll. The Bucs received 60 points and two first place votes after making it to the semifinals in the 2015 Big South Softball Tournament.
*The Bucs roster features a young, but experienced roster led by senior Natalie Yonan, as well as All-Conference selections Amanda Matsumoto and Cheyenne Gandara, as well as All-Tournament selection Stephanie Bergmann.
*This is the first of three tournaments the Bucs will host in the 2016 season. CSU will host Boston, Western Carolina and N.C. A&T on February 19-21, and Savannah State, Delaware State and UT Arlington on February 26-28.
*Amanda Matsumoto returns as one of the leading hitters in the Big South Conference with a .395 batting average with 77 hits in 195 at-bats. The junior outfielder scored a CSU record 50 runs and added 21 stolen bases last season.
*Charleston Southern junior pitcher/utility player Cheyenne Gandara was picked second in both the Big South Preseason Player of the Year and Preseason Pitcher of the Year categories by the league's head coaches.
*Charleston Southern will face off against two of the preseason top 25 teams in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll as the Bucs will take on Georgia (twice) and UCLA during the regular season. The Bucs will host #12 Georgia at home on March 10 and at the Holy City Showdown hosted by CofC on March 12. CSU will take on #7 UCLA at the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament on March 5.
*CSU ranked as one of the top home run hitting teams in the NCAA Division I in 2015 with the Buccaneers averaging more than one home run per game. The Bucs were led by 2016 volunteer assistant coach Marci Christian who finished fifth in the NCAA with 24 home runs, while Cheyenne Gandara connected on 16 home runs to finish fourth in the Big South.
*Several CSU single season records fell in the 2015 season:
At-Bats - Amanda Matsumoto - 195
Hits - Amanda Matsumoto - 77
Home Runs - Marci Christian - 24
RBI - Marci Christian - 59
Runs - Marci Christian/Amanda Matsumoto - 50
Walks - Marci Christian - 44
Slugging Percentage - Marci Christian - .873
On-Base Percentage - Marci Christian - .500
Total Bases - Marci Christian - 124
Strikeouts per 7 innings - Cheyenne Gandara - 8.11
*Towson won 35 games last season and advanced to the CAA Championship tournament for the third straight year.
*The Tigers, who won 17 games at their newly renovated Tiger Softball Stadium in 2015, will be led by junior Holiday Cahill and senior Olivia Yarbrough.
*Cahill finished second in the CAA with a .404 average during her sophomore season and also set a new TU record with 13 home runs.
*Yarbrough, meanwhile, was named to the All-CAA Second Team last year and batted .356 to go with a team-best 11 stolen bases.
*Towson plays in the same conference as local rival College of Charleston. The Cougars were selected third overall in the CAA poll.
*Georgetown returns 10 letterwinners to the field and has four newcomers on the 2016 roster.
*Sophomore Theresa Kane is the team's returning batting average leader at .289, with a .345 mark in conference games last year. Sam Giovanniello comes back as well, having finished second on the team in RBI and hits in 2015.
*The Hoyas were selected eighth in the Big East preseason poll and is looking to improve on last year's 15-32 record, 5-14 in conference play.
*Georgetown's schedule features five away tournaments, a home tournament co-hosted with George Washington and nine regular season home games.
*IPFW struggled in their 2015 season as the Mastodons went 3-45 overall on the year with wins against Western Illinois, IUPUI and Valparaiso.
*The Mastodons finished seventh overall in the Summit League standings.
*IPFW senior shortstop Emily Olszewski returns as one of three seniors for the Mastodons in the 2016 season after leading the team in both the hits (23) and steals (6) categories in the 2015 season.
*Junior infielder Kelly Pevely was also among the team leaders on the season with 23 hits, four home runs and 10 RBI on the season.