CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern softball's season came to an end on Saturday afternoon as the Buccaneers fell twice to Radford at the CSU Softball Field, 7-4, and 9-5, to close out the 2018 regular season.
The pair of losses dropped CSU (26-30, 7-14) into a tie with Winthrop for sixth-place in the regular season standings. The Eagles won the tiebreaker over the Buccaneers in 2018 courtesy of their series win against CSU on March 16-17. Radford (33-17, 13-8) is expected to be the No. 3 seed in the tournament field hosted by Radford University on May 9-12.
The Buccaneers received clutch hitting from junior outfielders Jade Gandara (4-for6, 6 RBI) and Annie Bakenhus (4-for-8, 2 RBI) on the afternoon with the duo each homering on the day. Meghan Gagliano added a multi-hit game in the season finale as the Bucs were unable to overcome late rallies by the Highlanders in Charleston.
Game One: Radford 7, Charleston Southern 4
Brianna Mills connected on the go-ahead three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning as the Highlanders scored five unanswered runs in the contest to even the series with the Buccaneers.
CSU took the early 4-2 lead in the bottom of the third thanks to a Jade Gandara three-run home run, but the Highlanders utilized homered by Talia Douglas and Mills to fight their way back to the win.
Arizona Pilgrim (8-11) suffered the loss in relief for the Bucs after giving up three runs and three hits while striking out five over the final three innings. Alyssa Heinrich went the first four innings in the circle allowing two earned runs and six hits.
Abby Morrow (20-11) needed nine pitches to go the final 1.2 innings in relief in picking up the win for the Highlanders as she was aided by an inning-ending double play in the bottom of the sixth. Kayla Huffman went the first 5.1 innings allowing eight hits and all four runs while striking out six in the no-decision.
Radford took the early 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning as the Highlanders were aided by a pair of CSU errors in the frame. Marissa Gagliano scored the first run of the frame on a fielding error by the CSU second baseman to put the Highlanders ahead with none out. Hunter Mundy followed two batters later with a sacrifice fly to left scoring Douglas for the two-run advantage.
Gandara swung the advantage back to the Bucs with one swing in the bottom half of the inning. Meghan Gagliano and Caitlyn Emberson came around to score on her 14th home run of the season with the 2-2 pitch clearing the fence in right-center to put CSU ahead 3-2. Mallory Kasinger followed with a single down the third base line to keep the rally alive. Bakenhus followed with a double down the first base line before Sarah Brown singled to left field scoring pinch runner Kendall Anderson to put CSU ahead 4-2.
Douglas tied the contest up with two outs in the top of the fourth. She followed up Sofia Tapia's single to right field with a first-pitch home run to centerfield to put the score at 4-4 midway through the contest.
CSU threatened to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth as the Bucs put two on with one out. However, Morrow came in relief and forced the inning-ending double play to end the potential Bucs' rally.
Radford put together a one-out rally in the top of the seventh culminating in Mills' go-ahead home run. Maggie Rowe sparked the stretch with a single down the left field line. A walk issued to Hunter Mundy put two on before Mills connected on a full-count offering over the left field fence to put the Highlanders ahead 7-4.
The Bucs went down in order in the bottom of the frame to end the contest.
Game Two: Radford 9, Charleston Southern 5
Radford scored four in the top of the fifth and added three more in the top of the seventh to close out the series and hold off the Buccaneers in the 2018 regular season finale for both teams.
Jade Gandara connected on a two-run triple, while Annie Bakenhus drilled her third home run of the season to pace CSU's offensive efforts in the game, while Hunter Mundy drove in three runs for the Highlanders in the inning.
Abby Morrow (21-12) went five innings in taking the win despite allowing nine hits and five runs. Kayla Huffman (S, 3) went the final two innings while striking out four for her third save of the season.
Marissa Yow put the Highlanders in the lead early with a two-run single in the top of the second scoring Brianna Mills and Hannah Medlam.
The Bucs rallied back with three runs in the bottom of the third behind to the bats of Gandara and Bakenhus. Meghan Gagliano led off the inning with a double and Caitlyn Emberson followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Gandara followed with a triple inside the first base bag and into the right-field corner bringing both runs home and allowing her to reach third standing up for her third triple of the season. Bakenhus followed with a fielder's choice to first base as Gandara slid around the tag at the plate to put the Bucs ahead 3-2.
Gandara added an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning to add to the CSU lead. Her line drive back through the circle and into centerfield scored Madison Koger to give the Bucs the 4-2 advantage.
Radford retook the lead in the top of the fifth inning with Mundy connecting on the go-ahead two-out, two-run single. Sofia Tapia brought home the first run of the frame with a one-out RBI single scoring Yow. Maggie Rowe added a bases-loaded RBI walk to tie the game at 4-4, before Mundy's sharply hit single brought home Tapia and Hannah Medlam to give Radford the two-run lead.
Bakenhus led off the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run to right centerfield for CSU's final run of the contest.
The Highlanders added their final three runs of the frame in the seventh with Rowe, Mundy, and Mills all recording RBI to stretch the lead to 9-5.
Bakenhus attempted to spark the comeback with a leadoff double to right centerfield. She advanced to third on Summer Moore's pinch-hit single before Huffman was able to retire the final two batters to complete the save.
CSU Home Runs
Play of the Day
News & Notes
- With her 14th home run of the season, Jade Gandara moved into sole possession of the second place in CSU's all-time record books with 37 career home runs. Caitlyn Emberson (27) ends her junior season tied for fourth all-time with Megan Lombard (2009-12), while Mallory Kasinger (20) is T-7th with Robin Cooper (1986-89) following her sophomore year.
- Gandara also finished the season in the top 10 all-time in doubles (33, 6th), triples (5, T-9th), runs (96, 10th), and RBI (135, 2nd).
- Gandara's .395 batting average was tied for sixth all-time in the CSU single-season record books with Amanda Matsumoto (2015). Her 14 home runs were the fifth-most all-time, while her 54 RBI was fourth-most.
- Meghan Gagliano's 23rd stolen base of the season tied her with Stephanie Schwartz (1993) for the eighth-most in a single season.
- Annie Bakenhus connected on five extra-base hits over the three-game series against the Highlanders. The junior centerfielder doubled twice in the opener on Friday, added a double in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, and then doubled and homered in the series finale.