CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BigSouthSports.com) - Charleston Southern earned the No. 4 seed in next week's 2017 Big South Softball Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting as announced on Sunday evening by the conference office. The Bucs will open the tournament against No. 5 Winthrop at Lancer Field on the campus of Longwood University on May 10, with first pitch set for noon on the Big South Network.
The No. 4 seed is Charleston Southern Softball's highest seed placement since the Bucs earned a three seed in 2012. The Bucs will look to re-establish their five year streak of winning multiple games in the Big South postseason after dropping in two games last year as a No. 7 seed. Three years ago, CSU became the first No. 7 seed in Championship history to win the championship game and the Big South's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
CSU will rely on a number of players to continue their postseason success this year including sophomore slugger Jade Gandara and seniors Amanda Matsumoto, Stevi Johnson, Stephanie Bergmann, Georgi DeLio, Brittany McPherson and Lexie Vanada, who were all part of CSU's 2014 Big South Championship team.
Gandara has consistently been one of the top offensive players in the Big South and the NCAA this season. The sophomore slugger and former Big South Player of the Week finished the regular season as a triple crowner, leading the league with 32 hits, 30 RBI and nine home runs in conference-only games. Gandara also earned a spot in the top-25 in the NCAA with 16 total home runs, 16 doubles, 54 total RBI and 132 total bases. In her 21 conference starts, Gandara connected for a hit in 19 of 21 games.
Matsumoto leads the conference with 31 stolen bases overall this season and finished in the top three of several conference-only categories including batting average (.426), hits (29), on-base percentage (.494) and runs scored (19). Matsumoto shattered two of CSU's program records this season, finishing regular-season play with 97 career steals and 233 career hits.
Campbell and host Longwood tied for second in the standings at 13-8, and the Camels secured the No. 2 seed in the six-team double-elimination tournament based on their 2-1 series win over the Lancers, which pushed Longwood to the No. 3 seed. Radford tied Gardner-Webb for sixth-place in the standings at 8-13, and the Highlanders collected the final qualifying spot with their 2-1 series win over the Runnin' Bulldogs.
The 2017 Softball Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting begins Wednesday, May 10 with three games scheduled and concludes Saturday, May 13 with two potential Championship contests starting at 12:00pm. All games May 10-11 will be carried on the Big South Network, while ESPN3 will air three games on Friday, May 12 as well as Saturday's Championship day. The Big South's champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Softball Championship. In-game statistics will be available on www.BigSouthSports.com and www.longwoodlancers.com.
The Conference Championship schedule is as follows and is subject to change.
Wednesday, May 10 (Games 1-3); TV: Big South Network
Game 1: No. 4 Charleston Southern vs. No. 5 Winthrop, 12:00pm
Game 2: No. 3 Longwood vs. No. 6 Radford, 2:30pm
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 5:00pm (elimination game)
Thursday, May 11 (Games 4-6); TV: Big South Network
Game 4: No. 1 Liberty vs. Winner Game 1, 12:00pm
Game 5: No. 2 Campbell vs. Winner Game 2, 2:30pm
Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4/5 (low seed), 5:00pm (elimination game)
Friday, May 12 (Games 7-9); TV: ESPN3
Game 7: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 4/5 (high seed), 12:00pm (elimination game)
Game 8: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 2:30pm
Game 9: Winner Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8, 5:00pm (elimination game)
Saturday, May 13 (Championship Day); TV: ESPN3
Game 10: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9, 12:00pm
Game 11: If Necessary: Winner Game 10 vs. Loser Game 10, 2:30pm