CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern is back home this weekend as the Buccaneers host Campbell University in a three-game series at the CSU Softball Field. Due to expected inclement weather on Sunday, the Bucs and Camels have shifted the series with the first game slated for Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. Saturday's doubleheader will close out the series starting at 1 p.m.
The Bucs opened the month of April on a high note following a trio of wins over College of Charleston and Savannah State (twice). However, this past weekend saw CSU drop a Big South series on the road to Gardner-Webb and a Wednesday home doubleheader against visiting Furman.
The Bucs' enter the matchup with a 6-6 record in Big South Conference play with three weekend series to go. CSU is tied for fourth in the conference standings following matchups against Winthrop, Longwood, Presbyterian, and Gardner-Webb. CSU still has home series against Campbell and Radford, while traveling to Liberty on April 20-21.
The Bucs have continued to utilize the long ball and their speed around the base paths in 2018 as they remain the only team in the NCAA in the top 20 in both home runs and stolen bases per game. CSU is 19th in home runs per game at (1.09) and 20th in steals per game at 1.98.
The Bucs' schedule remains tough the rest of the way as home contests against Campbell and Radford sandwich a three-game road trip to Liberty and a contest against No. 12 South Carolina.
Saturday's doubleheader will be streamed live via the Big South Network. Live stats for all games this weekend can be accessed on the CSU Softball schedule page with in-game updates provided on the CSU Twitter accounts, @CSUSports and @CSUGameDay
Campbell enters the weekend with an 18-23 overall record on the season and a 6-9 mark in Big South Conference play. The Camels boast a run-rule win over Virginia on the season as well as conference-series wins over Winthrop and Gardner-Webb. The Camels have lost four of their last five games with only a 7-6 win over Radford spanning the stretch.
Campbell started the season winning four of their first five at the University of San Diego Tournament. The Camels boast a 9-11 home record at Amanda Littlejohn Stadium in 2018, but the road has not been its friend. Campbell is only 6-11 away from Buies Creek this year. Prior to their recent skid, Campbell took midweek contests over East Carolina and N.C. Central as well as a contest against Longwood.
Rachel McCollum leads the Camels' offensive efforts in 2018 with a team-high .397 batting average to go with 14 home runs and 43 RBI. She adds a team-best 13 doubles, 31 runs scored, and 52 hits to pace the Camels' batters. Caroline Smith is also hitting above .300 on the year with a .310 batting average and eight home runs, while Lizabeth McCurry has 11 home runs on the year.
Megan Richards is the team-leader in the circle in 2018 with a 12-9 record and a 3.71 ERA on the year. Haley Hutchins (22 appearances) and Lexy Head (21 appearances) have also made 20-plus appearances in the circle this season. The trio have combined for 15 complete games and three shutouts this year.
Campbell was selected third in the 2018 Big South Softball preseason poll with 43 points and one first-place vote overall. Caroline Smith was voted third overall in the preseason Player of the Year voting behind Liberty's Amber Bishop and CSU's Jade Gandara.
The Bucs and Camels have faced each other in the field since the 1987 season when the Bucs first hosted Campbell on the field on March 14. CSU took the opening doubleheader over the Camels, 2-1 and 11-0. Campbell won two of the last three at the CSU Softball Field, but the Bucs swept the series last year in Buies Creek, N.C. with 6-4, 4-1, and 2-1 wins over the Camels.
Last Season Against Campbell
Charleston Southern swept the series against Campbell last season in the Big South regular-season finale for both teams on May 5-6.
Game One: CSU 6, Campbell 4
Lexie Vanada homered twice and a solo shot from Jade Gandara led Charleston Southern to a 6-4 win over Campbell on Friday night.
Game Two: CSU 4, Campbell 1
Amanda Matsumoto shattered Charleston Southern Softball's program record with her 233rd career hit with an RBI single in the Buccaneers' 4-1 win over Campbell.
Game Three: CSU 2, Campbell 1 (8)
The strong pitching of reliever Arizona Pilgrim and a clutch RBI from Mallory Kasinger in the top of the eighth inning pushed CSU past Campbell, 2-1, on Saturday night at Amanda Littlejohn Stadium.
>Jade Gandara continues to be a force at the plate for the CSU lineup in the 2018 season. The junior outfielder leads the Bucs in hits (52), home runs (13), RBI (45), batting average (.400), and slugging percentage (.777).
>Mallory Kasinger has also proven to be adept at the plate this season with the sophomore utility player hitting .300 from the plate to go with a team-high nine doubles. She is also second on the team with 11 home runs and 38 RBI.
>Caitlyn Emberson has continued to be effective for CSU this season. The junior utility player leads the team with 26 walks on the season to go with 20 hit by pitches on her way to leading the team with a .474 on-base percentage. She added her sixth home run against Savannah State and has eight doubles on the year.
>Annie Bakenhus moved up in the lineup and took on the cleanup role over the last four games. The junior centerfielder is hitting .364 from the plate with six doubles and 13 stolen bases on the year.
>Junior Arizona Pilgrim and sophomore Holly Clark have combined for 50 appearances and 34 starts over CSU's 46 games played this season. Pilgrim leads the Bucs with eight wins and 73 strikeouts. Clark is among the team leaders with seven wins and four complete games to go with a team-high 17 starts.
>Freshman third baseman Sarah Brown has been one of the top infielders in the Big South this season with the athlete sitting among the conference leaders with a team-high 111 assists on the year.
NCAA Top 50 Categories
Charleston Southern boasts sits in the top 40 in a trio of team categories and is ranked in the top 50 in 11 different individual categories according to the latest NCAA statistical rankings as announced on Tuesday morning.
CSU is the only team in the nation sitting in the top 20 in both stolen bases per game and home runs per game, while the Bucs are also among the national leaders in slugging percentage. The Bucs are 20th in stolen bases per game with 1.98, and 19th overall in home runs per game at 1.09. The Bucs are also 39th in the NCAA in slugging percentage with 0.464.
Caitlyn Emberson is among the national leaders in hit by a pitch for the second time in as many seasons. The junior catcher has been hit 20 times in 2018 to sit fifth in the NCAA with 0.43 hit by pitches per game.
Jade Gandara is individually ranked in home runs per game, home runs, RBI, RBI per game, slugging percentage, and total bases this season. The junior outfielder is 14th in home runs (13), 32nd in home runs per game (0.31), 13th in RBI (45), 38th in RBI per game (1.07), 43rd in slugging percentage (0.777), and 12th in total bases (101).
Mallory Kasinger is also among the NCAA leaders with 11 home runs on the season sitting 31st in the country.
Speedster Meghan Gagliano is 36th in the NCAA in stolen bases per game at 0.59. Destini Ewing makes her first appearance among the national leaders in walks per game sitting 39th overall with 0.67 per contest.
Approaching the Team Stolen Base Record
Charleston Southern is rapidly approaching the team single-season stolen base record as the Bucs continue to put together one of the best seasons in school history on the base paths. CSU enters the weekend with 91 stolen bases in 2018. The total is already the second-most in CSU history behind only the 1993 season. That year, paced by Stephanie Schwartz's 23 stolen bases, the Bucs recorded 92 thefts. CSU has recorded 69 (2016) and 62 (2017) stolen bases in each of the past two seasons, but with four players over double-digits in the stolen base category, CSU could approach a top 10 season in Big South history this year. The 10th-most stolen bases in conference history was recorded by Winthrop in 1996 with the Eagles swiping 108 that season.
Approaching the Home Run Record
Paced by the power bats of Jade Gandara and Mallory Kasinger, CSU has already put together a top-five performance in Buccaneer history at the plate this season. The Bucs enter the weekend leading the Big South with 50home runs thanks in part to the double-digit efforts by the CSU sluggers. Gandara paces the Bucs with 13 on the year, while Kasinger is second with 11. Freshmen Sarah Brown (7) and Nina Del Rio (6) also are among the team leaders while eight different players have connected on home runs this year. Three of the most successful home run seasons in CSU history have occurred in the last three years with a school-record 65 home runs occurring last season.
CSU Single Season Home Run Records
65 – 2017
62 – 2015
50 – 2018
49 – 2013
45 – 2016
45 – 2010