CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern went 1-1 overall on the first day of the Wingate by Wyndham Invitational at the CSU Softball Field as the Buccaneers topped Delaware State, 4-3, in their first game of the day. CSU suffered their setback in the late game of the day, falling to UT Arlington in the final game on day one, 4-3.
Jade Gandara paced the CSU (8-2) offense with three RBI against Delaware State in support of starter Nicole Ayala (2-0) as the Bucs topped the Hornets in the early contest. In the late game, Stevi Johnson connected on a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game up at 3-3, before UTA was able to push across the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh for the win.
Charleston Southern is back in action tomorrow afternoon as the Buccaneers taking on Savannah State (1 p.m.) and Delaware State (3 p.m.) on day two of the Wingate by Wyndham Invitational.
Game One: Charleston Southern 4, Delaware State 3
Jade Gandara recorded three RBI in the first two innings to spark the Buccaneers to an early lead and CSU was able to hold off a late inning comeback by the Hornets in securing their first win of the weekend.
The freshman outfielder singled in Amanda Matsumoto in the bottom of the first to give the Bucs the 1-0 lead, then added two more RBI in the bottom of the second with a run scoring single driving in Lexie Vanada and Caitlyn Emberson to give CSU starter Nicole Ayala all the support she would need in the contest.
Ayala went 5.2 innings in recording her second win of the season. She allowed three runs (two earned), while striking out two before getting lifted in the top of the sixth inning. Arizona Pilgrim shut down the Hornets over the final 1.1 innings in picking up her first save of the season.
After a scoreless top of the first, CSU struck for two runs in the bottom of the inning to take the early lead. Matsumoto drew a walk and stole second before scoring on Gandara's single to straightaway centerfield. Gandara came around to score three batters later on Stephanie Bergmann's groundout to give the Bucs the 2-0 lead.
Vanada led off the bottom of the second inning with a double to the right field fence to put the Bucs in scoring position early. Emberson followed with a single to left advancing Vanada to third on the play. Two batters later, Gandara again found a hole in the DSU defense with a single up the middle allowing both base runners to score to double up the CSU lead.
Errors played a factor in the Hornets' comeback in the top of the fifth inning as Delaware State plated three runs on a bases-loaded throwing error. Sandy Hawthorne drove in Nicole Gazzola and Nkili Matthews with a base hit to left field. The relay throw sailed high and rolled to the fence, allowing Chloe Oro to touch home on the play as DSU cut the CSU lead down to 4-3.
The Hornets threated to tie it up in the top of the sixth, loading the bases with two outs as Gazzola reached on an infield single off of Pilgrim. However, the CSU freshman responded by getting the final four DSU batters out to close out the game.
Gandara, Emberson and Natalie Yonan all had two hits for the Bucs offense in the game.
Game Two: UT Arlington 4, Charleston Southern 3
Stevi Johnson connected on the game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game up at 3-3, but UT Arlington took advantage of back-to-back one-out doubles by Laura Curry and Brianna Burchianti to retake the lead in the top of the seventh in holding on for the 4-3 win.
Johnson connected on the 0-1 offering from UTA starter Samantha Clakley (5-0) driving in Jade Gandara to erase a two-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth. It was Johnson's first home run of the season to put the Bucs back into the game.
However, UT scored runs in each of the last four innings with Burchianti's RBI double off of CSU starter Hayley Elkins (3-2) proving to be the difference in the game.
Elkins went 6.1 innings in the loss, allowing eight hits while striking out six. Clakley went the distance for the Mavericks, scattering five hits while striking out seven in the win.
Both pitchers were nearly perfect through the first three innings with only CSU's Destini Ewing making it past first base with a leadoff double in the bottom of the third.
The Mavericks broke the seal on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth on Britnea Barilli's RBI single scoring Curry with two outs in the inning.
The Bucs responded in the bottom half of the frame with Stephanie Bergmann drilling a single to left field scoring Stephanie Baro.
UTA plated runs in both the fifth and sixth innings with Mendoza and Krista Rude both picking up RBI singles before Johnson's home run.