CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern steps out of Big South Conference play for a midweek matchup against South Carolina on Wednesday night as the Buccaneers make the trip to Columbia, S.C. and the Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field. First pitch between the Bucs and the Gamecocks on the SEC Network+ is set for 6 p.m.
The Bucs took the final game of the three game series this past weekend against Radford in the Big South Conference series opener between the two squads. CSU's offense exploded with 17 hits in the game and rallied with four runs in the bottom of the sixth in topping the Highlanders for their first conference win of the season. Amanda Matsumoto, Jade Gandara and Stevi Johnson all had three hits apiece in the contest, while Lexie Vanada connected on the go-ahead two-run single in CSU's win.
Last season in the only matchup between the teams, the Bucs fell to South Carolina at the Carolina Classic on February 27, 10-3. Cheyenne Gandara went deep for the second time in as many games with a two-run shot in the bottom of the first, but the Gamecocks added runs in five of the last six innings in taking the win.
CSU vs. South Carolina Quick Hits
*Charleston Southern bounced back from a pair of losses in their Big South opening day against Radford on Sunday afternoon to top visiting Radford on Monday afternoon at the CSU Softball Complex, 8-5.
*Jade Gandara, Amanda Matsumoto and Stevi Johnson all had three hits apiece for the Bucs, while Lexie Vanada, Brittany McPherson and Caitlyn Emberson all had multi-hit games as CSU scored six runs over the final three innings to take the final game of the series from Radford.
*The Bucs win over Radford was the 200th career win for CSU Head Softball Coach Shane Winkler. The 200th win came in his 8th season in the dugout with the Bucs.
*Lexie Vanada came through with another clutch hit for the Bucs in the bottom of the sixth as the junior utility player connected on the go-ahead two-run single giving CSU the 7-5 lead. Vanada finished 2-for-4 from the plate and is hitting .524 over the past nine games.
*The Bucs utilized a standout performance in the circle by reliever Arizona Pilgrim (5-3) as the freshman shut down the Highlanders offense over the final four innings. Pilgrim scattered three hits while striking out four to limit the Radford threat.
*Hayley Elkins recorded the decision in all four games last week, recording a 1.85 ERA with a 21:6 strikeout to walk ratio over 22.2 innings pitched.
*Amanda Matsumoto has already tied her previous career high this season as the junior outfielder recorded her 21st stolen base against Radford. Matsumoto is tied for fifth all-time in CSU's single season record books in stolen bases on the season.
*Jade Gandara returned from injury this past week to record a double in CSU's first Big South Conference game against Radford in the opener on Sunday afternoon.
*Charleston Southern fell in their previous matchup against South Carolina last season on February 27th in the Carolina Classic Cheyenne Gandara connected on a two-run home run in the contest, but Gamecock home runs off the bats of Taylor Williams and Sarah Mooney gave USC an early margin they would not give up the rest of the way.
*Against common opponents this season, South Carolina is 5-2 overall. The Gamecocks are 2-1 against Georgia, 1-0 against Michigan State, 1-1 against UC Santa Barbara and 1-0 against Western Carolina.
*Against the same common opponents, Charleston Southern is 1-6 on the season. The Bucs went 0-2 against Georgia, 0-1 against Michigan State, 0-2 against UCSB and picked up their win in splitting their two games against Western Carolina at the CSU Invitational.
*South Carolina's Ansley Ard earned SEC Player of the Week honors from this past weekend after leading the Gamecocks with a .600 batting average with five runs scored and six RBI. She added a pair of game-winning home runs on the week.
*Ard leads seven starters hitting above .300 in the lineup on the season for the Gamecocks with a .397 batting average. Kaylea Snaer is the team leader with 13 doubles on the season, while Alaynie Page is the stolen base leader with nine steals.
*Jessica Elliott and Nickie Blue have been the top two in the circle for the Gamecocks on the season. Elliott leads the Gamecocks with a 1.69 ERA and a 12-1 overall record. Blue is the strikeout leader of the two with 72 strikeouts and a 10-5 overall record.
*CSU's Amanda Matsumoto leads the Big South Conference in stolen bases by a wide margin on the season. The junior centerfielder is first in the Big South with 21 steals on the season. Radford's Marissa Gagliano is second in the conference with 16.
*CSU's Hayley Elkins took over the Big South's strikeout lead this past weekend and sits atop the Big South standings with 90 strikeouts on the season. The sophomore pitcher leads Coastal Carolina's Kelsey Dominik (88) on the season.
*Elkins has also been a master of catching batters looking at strike three on the season with the sophomore sitting atop the Big South with 27 strikeouts looking on the year. She again leads Coastal's Dominik (25) in the category.