SB Preview: Bucs host Runnin' Bulldogs for weekend series

SB Preview: Bucs host Runnin' Bulldogs for weekend series

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern will host Gardner-Webb this weekend as the Buccaneers take on the Runnin' Bulldogs in a Saturday doubleheader and a Sunday showdown to wrap up the series.  First pitch between CSU and GWU is set for 1:00 p.m. Saturday and fans can follow the action via live stats on csusports.com and in-game updates on Twitter:   @CSUGameday.

Scouting Gardner-Webb

Gardner-Webb enters Saturday's doubleheader with a 9-18 record on the season and a 2-0 mark in conference-play.  

Underclassmen Callie Thornton and Alia Booth currently lead the Runnin' Bulldogs at the plate.  Thornton boasts a team-high .323 batting average, while Booth leads the team with two home runs, three triples and 17 RBI.

Freshman Olivia Henson (2-0) leads Gardner-Webb in the circle with a 3.17 ERA and 21 strikeouts in her 11 appearances.  Senior Mackenzie Thompson (2-7) paces the Runnin' Bulldogs with 48 innings pitched this season.  Thompson has thrown for a team-high 27 strikeouts and has a 3.79 ERA through 13 appearances.

The Buccaneers are 13-12 against the Runnin' Bulldogs under Head Coach Shane Winkler and have won four of their last six matchups with Gardner-Webb.

Last Time Against Gardner-Webb
Charleston Southern 9, Gardner-Webb 4 (April 3, 2016)
Brittany McPherson connected on a grand slam and drove in seven RBI to lead Charleston Southern past host Gardner-Webb on Sunday afternoon at the Brinkley Softball Field, 9-4.

McPherson connected on a bases-loaded double in the top of the first inning driving in three runs, then connected on a grand slam in the third to give the CSU (17-20, 5-4) pitching staff all the support they would need as the Buccaneers took the series from the Runnin' Bulldogs (16-17, 2-4).

Hayley Elkins (9-15) went the first four innings in the circle for the Bucs, allowing five hits and four runs (three earned) in picking up the win. Arizona Pilgrim closed out the final three innings in relief in picking up her second save of the season. The freshman allowed one hit while striking out two in the contest.  Stevi Johnson, Lexie Vanada and Cierra Robinson all had two hits apiece for the Bucs as CSU recorded their second 10 hit game of the weekend in the series finale.

The Bucs struck first in the top of the first inning with all of the damage coming with two outs in the frame. After GWU starter Devyn Terry retired the first two Bucs in the inning, Johnson and Vanada connected on back-to-back singles to put runners on base. Caitlyn Emberson reached on a fielding error by Terry, before McPherson turned on a pitch driving the ball into the left centerfield gap allowing all three runners to score, giving CSU the 3-0 lead.

GWU took one back in the bottom half of the inning as Amanda Gomes connected on a sacrifice fly driving in Kaylee Wacaster to narrow the margin to 3-1.  The Runnin' Bulldogs tied the game up at 3-3 in the second as Jill Blank singled in Megan Champion and Callie Thornton.

The Bucs responded in the top of the third with the first eight batters reaching base. Johnson and Vanada again sparked the inning with back-to-back singles, while Emberson reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases. McPherson turned on the pitch from GWU reliever Summer Darnell, driving the ball over the left field fence for the grand slam to give the Bucs the 7-3 lead.

Gardner-Webb continued to battle back in the fourth as Rachel Cumiskey singled in Wacaster to cut the Bucs' lead to 7-4.

CSU put the game away in the sixth as Johnson lofted a sacrifice fly scoring Amanda Matsumoto, while Emberson brought in Stephanie Bergmann on a fly out to right field to give the Bucs the 9-4 lead.

Pilgrim shut down the GWU comeback attempt over the final three innings with the freshman reliever allowing only a Cumiskey leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh on her way to closing out the game.

Recapping CSU's Last Game
Charleston Southern 2, UNC Wilmington 1 (March 22, 2017)
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The solid pitching of Cheyenne Gandara helped push the Buccaneers past Coastal Carolina on Wednesday afternoon at CSU Softball Field, as the Bucs topped the Chanticleers, 2-1. 

Gandara (4-8) led the Buccaneers (14-21) in the circle with eight strikeouts, one walk and one earned run through six innings.  Arizona Pilgrim closed out the game, allowing just one hit to earn her first save of the season.

Stevi Johnson paced the Bucs at the plate with her second home run in as many days.  CSU scored its second run after Amanda Matsumoto scored on Stephanie Bergmann's squeeze bunt down the third base line.

The Chanticleers (21-8) threatened to score first in the third inning, but were shutdown by a resilient Buccaneer defense.  Angela Buccilli and Payton Hanson led Coastal off in the top of the inning with hits and Taty Forbes moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.  Gandara forced a fly out on the next batter and struck out the next Chanticleer to hold Coastal scoreless through three innings.

In the bottom of the fourth frame, Johnson led the Bucs off with a solo home run to left center off the first pitch she saw.  The homer was Johnson's third of the season. 

CSU added another run in the bottom of the fifth as leadoff Amanda Matsumoto singled to left field.  The fleet-footed senior stole second and advanced to third following a wide throwdown from the catcher.  With a full count, Bergmann laid a bunt down the third base line for a squeeze play to score Matsumoto and give the Bucs the 2-0 lead.

Coastal recorded their lone run in the top of the sixth and almost added another after a double from Kassidy Smith bounced off of the top of the left field fence.  Buccilli brought Smith across with a single to left field, but Gandara struck out the next batter to get the Bucs out of the top of the inning and hold Coastal to one run.

Pilgrim entered the game in the top of the seventh and allowed just one hit for her first save and the 2-1 Buccaneer victory.

Going... going... GONE!
Charleston Southern leads the Big South with 41 home runs this season, more than twice the amount of any other team in the league.  The Buccaneers sit tied wtih Louisiana for second most home runs of any team in the country, right Arizona's 44, and are ranked 11th in the nation with 1.17 home runs per game. 

Jade Gandara leads the pack of home run hitters with 10 on the season.  The sophomore left fielder connected for three solo home runs last Saturday against Liberty to share CSU's program record for most home runs in a single game with sister power hitter, Cheyenne Gandara.  Jade leads the Buccaneers with a slugging percentage of .692, 25 RBI and 72 total bases this year. 

Mallory Kasinger follows Gandara with seven home runs and Emberson is right behind the former Freshman of the Week with six on the season.  CSU 2016 homerun-leader, Brittany McPherson, has sent five out this year, and Cheyenne Gandara rounds out the team's top-five home run hitters with a mark of four on the season.

Stevi Johnson recorded two home runs this week, including an inside-the-park homer against S.C. State on Tuesday.  Johnson has three this season, while Stephanie Bergmann, Destini Ewing and Georgi DeLio have each recorded a pair of home runs on the year.

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