CHARLESTON, S.C. - Solid pitching and dominant hitting led Charleston Southern to the opening day Willie Jewell's Invitational sweep over St. Bonaventure and George Mason on Friday afternoon at the CSU Softball Field.
The Buccaneers topped the Bonnies in CSU's opening game of the day behind Holly Clark's three-hit shutout to record the 9-0 win. Three-run home runs by Jade Gandara and Sarah Brown powered the Bucs to the 12-3 win over George Mason in the second game of the day as the Bucs improved to 8-3 overall on the season.
Caitlyn Emberson reached on seven of her eight plate appearances on the day, while Destini Ewing and Sarah Brown both had two hits apiece in each contest to help highlight the Bucs' hitting performance on the day. Arizona Pilgrim pitched around trouble in the second game and Emily Visnic closed out the contest against Mason to supplement Clark's shutout in game one.
Charleston Southern 9, St. Bonaventure 0 (5 inn.)
Holly Clark (3-1) faced three batters over the minimum in CSU's first game of the day as the sophomore ace picked up her third shutout win of the season against the Bonnies. Clark allowed singles in the second and fifth innings with the final coming on the game's last play on her way to picking up her third win of the year.
The Siler City, N.C. native allowed one walk and struck out four in the complete-game effort. Rylee Hehir (0-1) suffered the loss for the Bonnies after allowing 12 hits and nine earned runs over 3.2 innings. Grace Van Horn closed out the fourth inning in her lone pitching effort of the day.
The Bucs struck early and often in the contest as CSU loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the first. Taylor Gleason was hit by a pitch to bring home the first run to put CSU ahead 1-0 after the first frame.
Jade Gandara sparked the scoring in the bottom of the second with a two-run double scoring Annie Bakenhus and Caitlyn Emberson. Mallory Kasinger followed with a bloop single to right center scoring Gandara to stake CSU to the 4-0 lead. Nina Del Rio nearly connected on a home run later in the frame with her drive to centerfield hitting the top of the wall. She settled for the double bringing home Meghan Gagliano for the 5-0 advantage.
Clark retired eight in a row prior to Destini Ewing and Emberson connecting on RBI singles in the fourth to provide the final margin. Ewing's two-run single scored Brown and Kasinger, while Emberson's base hit brought home Madison Koger and Ewing to provide the 9-0 lead.
Clark sandwiched strikeouts around Olivia Golay's one-out single before Elizabeth Enovitch's infield base hit set off the final play of the game. Golay was unable to beat Brown's tag at third to end the contest as CSU closed out its first run-rule win of the day.
Charleston Southern 12, George Mason 3 (5 inn.)
The bats kept swinging in the second game of the day as Sarah Brown and Jade Gandara both connected on three-run home runs and tripled in the contest to pace a 12-hit offense on the afternoon.
Pilgrim pitched around a one-out double to hold the Patriots scoreless in the top of the first. Brown ended the tie on the second pitch she saw from Mason starter Bekah Ansbo (1-2) as the freshman third baseman connected on her second home run of the season. Brown's shot cleared the fence in left center, scoring Emberson and Gandara, to give the Bucs the 3-0 lead. Madison Koger added an RBI single in the frame to put the Bucs up 4-0 after one.
George Mason rallied back with three runs in the top of the second to cut into the CSU lead. Jess Curbeira connected on a two-out bases-loaded infield single scoring Meghan Graham and Jess Middleton to put the Patriots on the board. Liz Seymour beat out a diving effort by Destini Ewing for another single to cut the CSU lead down to 4-3 before Pilgrim was able to get the foul out and end the inning.
The Bucs took it back in the bottom of the frame. Following Emberson's leadoff walk, Gandara connected on a sharp grounder up the middle that split the defenders and rolled to the wall. The junior outfielder ended on third for the RBI triple to put CSU ahead 5-3. Kasinger followed with a single down the right field line to add to the Bucs' lead. Two batters later, Christi Takac's grounder in the left side hole was deep enough to score Gleason and give CSU the 7-3 lead.
Gandara added to the lead with her fourth home run of the season in the bottom of the third. The Hemet, Calif. native brought home Annie Bakenhus and Emberson with the line drive shot over the centerfield fence to stake CSU to the 10-3 lead. Sarah Brown followed two batters later with a triple and then scored on Takac's misplayed grounder. Taylor Gleason followed with an RBI single to provide the final scoring margin.
Pilgrim and Visnic kept the Patriots' bats at bay the rest of the way with the duo allowing just one runner in scoring position over the final two innings in completing the win.
News & Notes
- Charleston Southern stretches its win streak to a season-best three consecutive games following the pair of wins on Friday afternoon. The Bucs previously had been stuck in the pattern of winning two and then dropping the ensuing game.
- It was the first time since CSU topped Virginia and ETSU on back-to-back games in the Buccaneer Invitational on February 17, 2017, that the Bucs had swept a tournament doubleheader.
- Holly Clark's trio of shutouts over the first three weekends of the season moves the sophomore pitcher solely into ninth place all-time in the CSU all-time pitching record books with five career shutouts.
- Jade Gandara's fourth home run of the season moved her into a tie for third all-time in the CSU record books with Megan Lombard (27, 2009-12).
- Sarah Brown and Jade Gandara's triples tripled CSU's three-base hits on the season following the contest. Taylor Gleason connected on the first triple of the year last weekend against Valparaiso.
- Caitlyn Emberson raised her on-base percentage to .632 following the opening day of the Willie Jewell's Invitational. She singled, doubled, and drew a walk in three of her four at-bats in the opener. She followed up with another double, single, and two walks in the finale against Mason.
- Emberson and Gandara tied with a team-high four runs apiece in the contest, and the junior duo currently lead the Bucs with 13 runs apiece scored on the season.
- Six different starters in the CSU lineup are hitting over .300 on the season following the first 11 games of the year, paced by Gandara's .529 batting average.
Charleston Southern continues the Willie Jewell's Invitational tomorrow afternoon as the Buccaneers take on George Mason and Hartford at the CSU Softball Field. First pitch against the Patriots is set for 1 p.m., while CSU will close out the afternoon against the Hawks in the ensuing game.