CHARLESTON, S.C. - Jade Gandara connected on a grand slam to highlight a six-run second inning and added a late RBI sacrifice fly to pace Charleston Southern's offensive efforts as the Bucs topped Wright State in the first game of the Holy City Showdown on Friday, 8-4.
CSU's win over the Raiders was of special significance for the Buccaneers as it marked Head Coach Shane Winkler's 250th career win at the helm of CSU Softball. Winkler, in his 10th season with the Bucs, is the fourth coach in Big South history to achieve the wins mark and is CSU Softball's all-time winningest coach in program history.
The Bucs wasted little time in helping their coach reach the milestone as CSU jumped ahead early in the top of the first as Gandara connected on a one-out double and Mallory Kasinger singled her over to third base. Sarah Brown brought home the first run with an RBI groundout to second to put CSU ahead 1-0.
The Raiders answered in the bottom of the frame as Honnah Susor connected on a leadoff double against CSU starter Holly Clark (5-3) and Macey Gunther followed two batters later with an RBI single up the middle to even the score.
CSU's bats exploded for six runs in the top of the second to take a commanding lead. The Bucs loaded the bases on an error, a hit by pitch, and a walk before Caitlyn Emberson drew the second hit by pitch in the inning to bring home Madison Koger for the first run of the frame. Gandara followed on the next pitch with a grand slam off WSU starter Ally Russell (1-4) with the ball sailing over the right centerfield fence to give the Bucs the 6-1 lead. Three batters later, Destini Ewing added to the CSU lead with an RBI single to centerfield scoring Brown to stake the Bucs to the 7-1 advantage.
The teams settled into a pitchers' duel in the middle innings as Clark and WSU reliever Jordan Kennaw traded zeroes on the scoreboard before the Raiders put two across the plate in the fifth. Lauren Deitrick brought home Madison Whitaker with a double to left field for the first run. Kennaw helped herself with an RBI single later in the frame to cut the CSU lead down to 7-3.
Base-running and a pair of CSU errors helped the Raiders bring another run home in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Susor reached on a muffed throw by the CSU first baseman allowing Jordyn Poulson to advance to third. Susor stole second base and Poulson crossed home on the play thanks to a throwing error to narrow the lead down to 7-4.
Gandara provided insurance for the Bucs in the top of the seventh. Laina Holmgren led off the frame reaching on a throwing error by the WSU third baseman. Meghan Gagliano came into run and moved around the field on a groundout and an Emberson single. Gandara followed with a sacrifice fly to centerfield scoring Gagliano to put CSU ahead 8-0.
Alyssa Heinrich pitched around a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh to complete her second inning in the circle and closed out the game.
Clark picked up her fifth win of the season after going the first five innings in the contest. The sophomore ace allowed eight hits and three runs while striking out four. Heinrich allowed one hit and an unearned run over the final two innings.
Russell took the loss after giving up five hits and seven runs (five earned) over the first 2.0 innings. Kennaw allowed seven hits and an unearned run over the final five frames.
Gandara and Destini Ewing led the Bucs with three hits apiece in the game with Gandara and Ewing both posting doubles in the contest.
News & Notes
- Jade Gandara's grand slam was her team-leading eighth home run of the season and the Buccaneers' second of the year.
- Gandara's five RBI was a season-high, while her three hits in the contest marked her 10th multi-hit game of the year and fourth time in 2018 she has connected on a trio of hits in a game.
- Head Coach Shane Winkler joins Winthrop's Mark Cooke and former coaches Coastal Carolina's Jess Dannelly and Liberty's Paul Wetmore as the only coaches in Big South history to achieve 250 career wins at their institution.
Charleston Southern continues the Holy City Showdown tonight against Norfolk State with first pitch slated for 7 p.m. at the Patriots Point Athletics Complex.