CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern split with North Dakota on opening day as the Buccaneers took the first game of the doubleheader behind a strong performance by Holly Clark, while Jade Gandara homered to pace the Bucs in game two. CSU took the first game of the Wingate by Wyndham Invitational, 1-0, while falling in the afternoon game, 4-2.
The Bucs and the Fighting Hawks both move to 1-1 early in the season as the two teams played in some of the first NCAA softball games across the nation. CSU and UND were scheduled to face each other twice over the weekend of the Wingate Invitational, but the teams decided to move the games to Thursday due to the increased threat of inclement weather.
Game One: Charleston Southern 1, North Dakota 0
Holly Clark (1-0) went the distance for her third career shutout as the sophomore ace faced just three batters over the minimum in the two-hit bid. Clark allowed a single in the first and third innings before retiring the final 13 batters to close out the victory.
Madison Koger added an RBI single in the bottom of the second for what turned out to be the deciding run as the pitchers took over the first contest of the season. Koger (2-for-3) and Jade Gandara (2-for-2) led the Bucs offensively with a pair of singles each.
Clark allowed a walk and posted a strikeout in the shutout victory. Her counterpart in the circle, Kaylin VanDomelen (0-1) nearly matched her effort allowing an unearned run and four hits to go with three walks while striking out seven.
North Dakota put its lone runner in scoring position in the top of the first as Taylor Nadler connected on a one-out single to move VanDomelen to second base. VanDomelen moved to third on a fielder's choice before Clark retired Marina Marzolino to end the threat.
The Bucs got on the board in the bottom of the second inning as Nina Del Rio hustled down the line to beat a bobbled throw to lead off the inning. Meghan Gagliano entered as a pinch runner and promptly stole second base. Following a strikeout, Koger poked the ball down the right field line for a single bringing home Gagliano for the only run of the game.
VanDomelen reached base for the Fighting Hawks in the third with a two-out single. That was the final baserunner allowed by Clark in the contest as the sophomore right-hander retired the minimum over the next 4.1 innings to end the shutout.
Game Two: North Dakota 4, Charleston Southern 2
Jade Gandara connected on her first home run of the season and added a single for her second multi-hit game to pace the CSU offense on the afternoon. However, Hannah Bergh (1-0) was able to keep the rest of the Buccaneers' lineup at bay as CSU fell to UND in the second game of the doubleheader.
Gandara's 24th career home run evened the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the third as the Hemet, Calif. native took the full-count, two-out pitch over the left field fence to score Caitlyn Emberson. She added a leadoff infield single in the bottom of the sixth.
Bergh went the distance in the contest for the Fighting Hawks, allowing four hits and two runs while striking out six in the game. Arizona Pilgrim (0-1) suffered the loss for CSU after giving up all four runs (two earned) while allowing two hits. Alyssa Heinrich allowed two hits over the final two innings in relief.
The Fighting Hawks took advantage of a pair of CSU errors in the top of the second to build the early 2-0 lead. With two in scoring position with two outs, Lexi Mayhood snuck a grounder off the glove of the CSU third baseman allowing Angel Love and Dani Romero to score to give UND the two-run advantage.
Gandara tied it up with one swing in the bottom of the third to even the ballgame after Emberson reached on a two-out hit by pitch.
Taylor Nadler connected on the go-ahead two-run double to left in the top of the fifth scoring Kaylin VanDomelen and Natalie Gerber.
Bergh took over from there, allowing just Gandara's infield hit the rest of the way to halt any chance of a CSU comeback attempt.
News and Notes
- Madison Koger finished with three hits over the first two games, including her game-winning RBI over UND in the opener.
- Jade Gandara has reached base in eight consecutive games after finishing the 2017 season on a six-game on-base streak.
- Gandara's home run, her 24th of her career, moved her past sister Cheyenne Gandara (23, 2014-17) for fourth all-time in the CSU record books. She is currently three behind Megan Lombard (27, 2009-12) from entering the top three all-time.
- Holly Clark's opening day shutout was the first time the Bucs have held an opponent scoreless on the first game of the season since Cheyenne Gandara downed UMBC, 8-0, on February 6, 2015, in a five-inning contest.
- A total of five new players made their CSU debuts in the starting lineup in the first game against UND as Annie Bakenhus, Nina Del Rio, Madison Koger, Sarah Brown, and Taylor Gleason all took the field for first pitch. A sixth, Meghan Gagliano, scored the game-winning run.
The Bucs take on North Carolina A&T in the Friday afternoon game slated for a 1 p.m. start time. North Dakota will be back in action in the opening game on Friday morning against Towson with first pitch set for 9 a.m.