CHARLESTON, S.C. - Four days away from Opening Day for the Charleston Southern softball team as the Buccaneers continue their preparations for the opening Wingate by Wyndham Invitational hosted at the CSU Softball Field. Head Coach Shane Winkler looks forward to seeing how the outfield adapts as CSU prepares for first pitch against North Carolina A&T on February 9.
Things to Watch from the Outfielders
Slugging her way up the record books
Similar to fellow junior Caitlyn Emberson, Jade Gandara brings a big bat to the Charleston Southern lineup in the 2018 season. The Hemet, Calif. native finished the 2017 season second in the conference with 16 home runs and was the 2018 Preseason Big South Player of the Year runner-up after a standout season. Swinging from the left side of the batters box, Gandara led the Bucs in multiple categories on the season including home runs, slugging percentage, RBI, total bases, and batting average. She is currently tied for fourth all-time in the CSU career home run rankings (23) and is 10th overall in career RBI (81) heading into her third season with the Bucs.
Annie Bakenhus will be given the first opportunity to replace all-time great Amanda Matsumoto in centerfield this season. The junior from Bethune-Cookman earned First Team All-Conference honors in her freshman season and combined speed, power, and athleticism to the outfield that will look to replace the production of Matsumoto. One of three left-handed bats on the CSU roster in the 2018 season, Bakenhus' ability to flash the glove, as well as handle herself at the plate will be a key to the Bucs' offensive and defensive successes in 2018.
Replacing Matsumoto's presence in the lineup also includes the speed element in CSU's defensive lineup. The Bucs return only nine stolen bases out of the 62 accumulated by the team last season led by Jade Gandara's three steals. Christi Takac added a pair of steals, while Caitlyn Emberson, Destini Ewing, Sydney Garling, and Mallory Kasinger all recorded steals on the season. The Bucs will look to be active on the base paths this season with Taylor Gleason and Bakenhus helping make strides, while an overall emphasis in athleticism and speed across the roster will be felt around the lineup in 2018.
Player Profile – Jade Gandara
Jade Gandara reprises her role in the middle of the CSU lineup as the junior outfielder looks to build off the impressive strides last season. The Hemet, Calif. native bounced back from injuries in her freshman year to put together an impressive resume in her sophomore season on her way to starting all 61 games around the field. Gandara tied the CSU single game record with three home runs against Liberty this past season on March 18, equaling the mark achieved by her sister and graduate assistant Cheyenne Gandara. She finished in the top five in the Big South in all major hitting categories and will once again be expected to lead the Bucs in the 2018 season.
"We lost a player like Mats, and really, a lot of the seniors we lost were tough players to replace. The nice thing is that we are more athletic around the entire field this season. We're not going to sit back and rely on the three-run home run all the time and play station to station. We have plenty of power coming back and we still have kids that will put up double-digit home run numbers, but throughout the entire lineup we can run." – Coach Winkler on the state of the roster.
"Right now Jade (Gandara) is going to line up in left field and Annie (Bakenhus) will take centerfield. Right field is where we will have a lot of competition throughout the tournament season as we start to see who will put up consistent numbers. Every single one of these kids is athletic and can run the bases. It's going to be fun seeing who steps up and what will happen this season." – Winkler on the outfield heading into the season.
7 – Seven different categories Jade Gandara led the Bucs in the 2017 season. The list includes batting average (.354), slugging percentage (.709), hits (67), RBI (55), doubles (17), home runs (16), total bases (134).
32 – Stolen bases accumulated by alum Amanda Matsumoto in the 2017 season. The Bucs will attempt to find a way to match the total this season behind the efforts of speedsters Annie Bakenhus, Taylor Gleason, Meghan Gagliano, and a host of CSU athletes.