Gandara named to First Team, Eight Bucs recognized on Big South Softball postseason teams

Gandara named to First Team, Eight Bucs recognized on Big South Softball postseason teams

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BigSouthSports.com) - Charleston Southern had eight players recognized among the Big South Conference postseason award winners on Tuesday afternoon as the conference office announced the All-Conference, All-Freshman and All-Academic teams.  Jade Gandara represents the Buccaneers on the First-Team All-Conference.   Amanda Matsumoto, Stevi Johnson and Caitlyn Emberson were named to the Big South All-Conference Second Team, while Holly Clark and Mallory Kasinger were named to the Big South All-Freshman team.  Taylor Powell was recognized on the conference All-Academic team and Cheyenne Gandara received Honorable Mention All-Conference.

Jade Gandara was named to the First-Team All-Conference after a regular season of consistently ranking as one of the top offensive players in the Big South and the NCAA.  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 was named to the All-Conference Second Team for the third consecutive season after lining up in 58 games in centerfield for CSU.  The fleet-footed senior 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.

Emberson was also named to the All-Conference Second Team last season in addition to earning All-Freshman honors.  The sophomore utility player led the Bucs this season with a .465 on base percentage for a second-best in the Big South.  Emberson finished the regular season in the top of several other conference categories including slugging percentage (6th, .579), runs batted in (7th, 32), doubles (T4th, 11), home runs (3rd, 11) and total bases (T6th, 84).

Johnson, a 2016 All-Academic Team selection, was picked to the All-Conference Second Team for the first time in the senior's collegiate career.  The second baseman led the Big South with 14 sacrifice bunts on the season and was ranked in the top-ten of multiple Big South categories, including batting average (8th, .338), slugging percentage (8th, .545), on base percentage (5th, .433), hits (9th, 52), doubles (T8th, 10), triples (T10th, 2), home runs (T10th, 6) and total bases (T6th, 84).  Johnson recorded a home run in both of CSU's games on Senior Day, helping the Bucs to 4-0 and 6-4 wins over Winthrop on April 15.

Kasinger opened the season as the Big South Come Ready Nutrition Freshman of the Week after leading the Buccaneers at the plate during CSU's opening week.  The freshman recorded 10 RBIs, one double, seven hits and three home runs, including a grand slam in game two of CSU's doubleheader with Savannah State on February 9.  Kasinger earned 52 starts in her rookie season, including 17 conference starts, and finished the regular season as one of the leading freshman home run hitters with seven bombs on the year.

Clark saw action in the circle in 37 games her rookie season, tying for the number three spot for most appearances in the Big South.  The freshman pitcher helped the Bucs to seven wins and finished the regular season sharing the league-lead for most games in relief (20) and landed in the top-10 of several other conference categories including games finished (T6th, 12), batters struck out (9th, 78), innings pitched (7th,122.0) and is tied for second in the Big South with two saves on the season.

Powell was recognized on the conference All-Academic Team after Powell thanks to her work in the classroom as a Mathematics major while minoring in Applied Physics.  A member of the dean's list at Charleston Southern as well as the Big South Presidential Honor Roll, Powell holds a 4.00 GPA.  She has lined up in the outfield on the CSU Softball team for two seasons and redshirted in 2016.  Powell has played in 93 games, lining up at both corner outfield positions, as well as serving as a pinch-runner for the Bucs in key situations.  She was also named the Hunter Cup recipient, CSU's most prestigious academic award for student-athletes, at this year's 51st Annual Athletic Awards Banquet.

Cheyenne Gandara led the Buccaneers with 24 starts in the circle this season, including 10 conference game starts.  The redshirt-junior and former Big South Pitcher of the Week finished the regular season with eight overall wins and four conference wins.  She stands in the top-10 of several Big South pitching categories including earned run average (5th, 2.94), innings pitched (6th, 123.2), batters struck out (8th, 95), wins (T9th, 8) and saves (T7th, 1).  Gandara tied CSU's program record this season with 12 strikeouts in CSU's 5-0 shutout win over Gardner-Webb on March 25.

Campbell senior Amber Schisler and Liberty sophomore Julia DiMartino have been voted Big South Softball Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, by the league's head coaches.  Liberty's head coach Dot Richardson was voted Big South Coach of the Year, while Liberty second baseman Amber Bishop earned Freshman of the Year honors.  Liberty's Kenzie Friesen was voted Scholar-Athlete of the Year by the Big South's sports information directors.

Charleston Southern opens the 2017 Big South Softball Championships on Wednesday at Longwood's Lance Field against No. 5 seed Winthrop.  First pitch is set for 12 p.m. on the Big South Network.

2017 BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE SOFTBALL AWARD WINNERS

First-Team All-Conference
OF    Jade Gandara, Soph., Charleston Southern
OF    Tori Zavodny, Jr., Liberty
OF    Taesha DuBoise, Sr., Campbell
1B     Alia Booth, Fr., Gardner-Webb
2B    Amber Bishop, Fr., Liberty
SS    Maddie Antone, Sr., Winthrop
3B    Hunter Mundy, Fr., Radford
C      Kaylynn Batten, Soph., Longwood
P      Julia DiMartino, Soph., Liberty
P      Elizabeth McCarthy, Sr., Longwood
DP    Amber Schisler, Sr., Campbell
UTL   Autumn Bishop, Fr., Liberty 

Second-Team All-Conference
OF    Amanda Matsumoto, Sr., Charleston Southern

OF    Jordan Clark, Soph., Longwood
OF    Jasmeen Click, Soph., Liberty
1B     Leah Young, Sr., Winthrop
2B    Stevi Johnson, Sr., Charleston Southern
SS    Sarah Robertson, Soph., Liberty
3B    Alexia Taylor, Jr., Liberty
C      Paige Haley, Sr., Winthrop
P      Kenzie Friesen, Gr., Liberty
P      Sydney Gay, Soph., Longwood
DP    Karleigh Donovan, Soph., Longwood
UTL   Caitlyn Emberson, Soph., Charleston Southern 

Honorable Mention All-Conference
Ashley Westbrooks, OF/UTL, Fr., Winthrop
Bailey Bjorson, C, Sr., Campbell
Kaylee Wacaster, OF, Soph., Gardner-Webb
Katie Baker, P, Sr., Campbell
Cheyenne Gandara, P, R-Jr., Charleston Southern
Abby Morrow, P, Jr., Radford 

All-Freshman Team
Amber Bishop, 2B, Liberty
Autumn Bishop, UTL, Liberty
Hunter Mundy, 3B, Radford
Alia Booth, 1B, Gardner-Webb
Mallory Kasinger, 3B, Charleston Southern
Kasey Carr, UTL, Longwood
Ashley Westbrooks, OF/UTL, Winthrop
Emily Sweat, DP, Liberty
Holly Clark, P, Charleston Southern
Taylor Hoffman, OF, Liberty
Madyson Watson, UTL, Winthrop
Olivia Henson, P, Gardner-Webb 

All-Academic Team
Katie Baker, P, Sr., Campbell
Taylor Powell, OF, Sr., Charleston Southern
Callie Thornton, 3B, Soph., Gardner-Webb
Kenzie Friesen, P, Gr., Liberty
Kelsey Sweeney, 1B, Jr., Longwood
Hope Rogers, 2B, Sr., Presbyterian College
Kayla Bishton, 1B, Sr., Radford
Paige Haley, C, Sr., Winthrop 

Player of the Year
Amber Schisler, DP, Sr., Campbell 

Pitcher of the Year
Julia DiMartino, Soph., Liberty 

Freshman of the Year
Amber Bishop, 2B, Liberty 

Coach of the Year
Dot Richardson, Liberty 

Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Kenzie Friesen, P, Gr., Liberty 

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