CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern continues its preparations for the 2019 season as the Buccaneers sit just one week away from first pitch of the CSU Invitational against Dayton on February 7.
Today's preview features the infield as the Buccaneers will look to blend a mix of youth and speed with the power bat of Jade Gandara this year.
Things to Watch from the Infielders
Gandara on the Move
One constant in the CSU lineup over the last three seasons has been the power bat of Jade Gandara. Gandara became the first CSU player in program history to earn NFCA All-Region honors last season as a Second Team selection in the outfield. Gandara paced the Bucs in batting average (.395) and slugging percentage (.741) while adding 14 home runs in the middle of the CSU lineup. She enters the season six home runs and six RBI away from tying the CSU all-time mark, as well as sitting among the leaders in hits, doubles, triples, runs, RBI, and total bases. After lining up at both corner outfield positions over the last three years, Gandara makes the shift to first base this season for her senior year and will look to provide leadership to a unit that could see three underclassmen among their consistent starters.
Sarah Brown impressed in her freshman season earning Big South All-Freshman honors and leading the conference in assists. Brown was one of five players to start all 56 games last season manning the hot corner for CSU throughout the year. She finished third on the team in batting average (.290), home runs (9), RBI (30), and runs scored (30). She was also among the team and conference leaders with 15 stolen bases possessing a knack for picking the right time to take a base last season. Brown will look to duplicate her success this year as the Sacramento, Calif. native returns to the lineup for her sophomore year.
Koger Takes Leadership Role
Quiet. Gamer. Those are the words Coach Taylor used to describe Madison Koger as the Fairfield, Ohio native returns at shortstop. Joining Brown as one of five players to start all 56 games last season, the strong-armed sophomore is back in the middle of the CSU defensive lineup and ready to make an impact. Showing a knack for being in the right place at the right time, Koger impressed with her ability to throw from the right angle and her decision-making on the field. She was among the conference leaders in assists last season and will look to take control of an infield as it meshes together early in the season.
Newcomers Making An Impact
CSU welcomes a trio of newcomers that will have an impact on the Bucs' lineup this season. Freshman Brooklynn Brewington brings good speed and range up the middle as she's expected to start the season at second base for the Bucs. Erika Cooper provides depth and the ability to play first base this season and provide elite experience after playing with the Beverly Bandits club team. SeaEnna Satcher was a four-year varsity starter at Newbury Park High School. She will see time in the corner infield and in the lineup.
"I'm excited about the level of athlete we have on the infield. Right now we're focusing more on the game instincts and being able to handle the pressure. We've been working on those two things and the players have been like sponges – they've been constantly adapting to the culture and just wanting to learn and get better." – Head Coach Venus Taylor on the infield overall.
"They're feeling confident because they've had playing experience under their belt and because they know I see there is talent out there on the field. I'm excited, I'm excited to get out there and I know the team is on a mission to prove themselves." – Taylor on the development of the young infield.
Inside the Numbers
135 – Career RBI for Jade Gandara entering the 2019 season sitting just six behind CSU career leader Jana Matthews (141, 2010-13).
130 – Sarah Brown led the Big South Conference in assists last season with 130 in her freshman year.
37 – Career home runs for Jade Gandara entering the 2019 season to put her second all-time behind CSU career leader Marci Christian (43, 2013-15).
16 – Double plays turned by the Buccaneers in 2018.