RADFORD, VA – Charleston Southern struck early and never let up as the Buccaneers topped the Highlanders, 8-1, in the conference series finale on Sunday at Radford Softball Stadium.
Cheyenne Gandara (7-11) recorded four strikeouts and allowed one run (none earned) in the complete game effort. The redshirt junior was also hot at the plate, connecting for a two-run homer in the first frame.
Sunday's victory marked the first time the Buccaneers (20-27, 5-7) have won a conference series with Radford (18-17, 4-5) since 2011.
CSU opened the game with big bats. After a throwing error allowed Amanda Matsumoto to reach base, Stevi Johnson laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance her to second. Matsumoto made it to third on a passed ball and a single from Jade Gandara scored the Bucs' first run. Cheyenne Gandara followed her sister with a home run to right center to give CSU the 3-0 advantage after half an inning.
Cheyenne Gandara allowed just two hits in the Highlanders' first four at bats and set the side down in order in both the second and fourth frames. The Bucs got their bats going again in the fifth as Johnson led off with a double to center field. Jade Gandara connected for her second RBI of the game with a double to right to give CSU the 4-0 lead. Gandara finished the day with a game-high three hits and four RBI.
Radford recorded its lone run in the bottom of the fifth after Brittany Wratchford doubled to left field and a CSU fielding error allowed her to score. The Buccaneers made up for it at the plate in the sixth frame with hits from Georgi DeLio, Matsumoto and Jade Gandara to score a pair of runs for the 6-1 CSU lead.
The Highlanders had another opportunity to score in the bottom of the frame with runners on first and second with one out. CSU's defense came up big as third baseman Mallory Kasinger turned a double play to get the Bucs out of the inning.
Caitlyn Emberson was hit by a pitch to open the seventh frame and Kasinger followed with a walk. A sac bunt from DeLio moved both runners up, and a groundout RBI from Stephanie Bergmann gave the Bucs the 7-1 lead. Pinch hitter Lexie Vanada kept the rally going with a rip to left center to score Kasinger and set the score at 8-1.
Radford tried to get something going in the bottom of the inning with hits from Summer Robinson and Hannah Medlam. The Bucs' defense stayed strong and thwarted the comeback effort to take the series with the 8-1 victory.