SB Preview: Bucs host midweek contest with Eastern Illinois prior to opening Big South play

SB Preview: Bucs host midweek contest with Eastern Illinois prior to opening Big South play

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Following a quick day off on Monday, Charleston Southern softball is back on the field on Tuesday afternoon as the Buccaneers host Eastern Illinois in a single game at the CSU Softball Field. First pitch between the Bucs and the Panthers is set for 3 p.m.

Changed on Sunday to a scheduled doubleheader, the two coaches met again on Monday morning and switched the contest back to a solo game set for Tuesday afternoon. It will be the second time the teams will have met in three days with both sides competing in the final game of the Holy City Showdown on Sunday night.

Eastern Illinois proved victorious in the first contest between the two teams behind a strong pitching performance in the circle by senior Jessica Wireman. Wireman went the distance scattering four hits and two walks while striking out eight in the Panthers' 6-0 win.

Mia Davis paced the offensive efforts with a trio of RBI, including a two-run home run, while Haley Mitchell went 3-for-3 from the plate against CSU pitchers Arizona Pilgrim and Nina Del Rio.

Destini Ewing led CSU's offense in the contest with the junior infielder continuing to swing a hot bat throughout the past week. Ewing went 2-for-3 in the contest with a double to pace the Bucs offense. It highlighted a .500 batting average on the week to go with three doubles and four walks drawn while starting all five games at second base.

CSU's offense has paced the conference this season as the Buccaneers look to bounce back from a pair of losses on Sunday afternoon to Norfolk State and Eastern Illinois.

The Bucs lead the Big South in the team standings in batting average (.303), runs scored (153), home runs (32) and RBI (137). CSU's pitching staff is tied for the conference lead with six shutouts on the year.

Individually, Jade Gandara is in the top three in multiple categories including batting average (.439, 1st), slugging percentage (.890, 3rd), runs scored (24, 2nd), hits (36, 2nd), RBI (34, 2nd), home runs (10, 2nd), and total bases (73, 1st). Meghan Gagliano and Caitlyn Emberson also are conference leaders on the year with Gagliano's 13 steals and Emberson's 18 walks pacing the Big South.

CSU finished the tournament season 16-10 heading into its final game prior to opening conference play this weekend at Winthrop. The Bucs boasted winning recorded over the first three weekends in the 2018 season and a 2-2 mark at the Holy City Showdown.

EIU enters the Tuesday afternoon contest with a 16-7 overall record after winning three of four at the Holy City Showdown. The Panthers lost their lone contest, a nine-inning game against Furman, on Sunday afternoon prior to playing CSU.

The Panthers will remain in Charleston following the midweek contest with the Bucs as EIU takes part in the Charleston Invitational hosted on March 15-16 at the Patriots Point Athletic Complex by College of Charleston.

Haley Mitchell leads the offense on the season with a .406 batting average to go with seven doubles, six home runs, and 29 RBI. Kayla Bear is the speed threat on the base paths with 12 steals in 13 attempts, while Taylor Monahan (8-for-9) is also a threat to go when she is on base.

Wireman (7-3) and Michelle Rogers (8-3) are the two aces for the Panthers in the circle with the duo combining for 30 appearances and 21 starts over the season. The duo have eight complete games and three shutouts, while combining for 130 strikeouts and 51 walks.

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