SB Preview: Buccaneers host Wingate by Wyndham Invitational this weekend

SB Preview: Buccaneers host Wingate by Wyndham Invitational this weekend

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern continues the 2019 tournament season this weekend with the Wingate by Wyndham Invitational on February 15-17 at the CSU Softball Field. It's the second tournament in as many weekends in Charleston as the Bucs welcome Detroit Mercy, East Tennessee State, and Virginia Tech for the three-day event.

Wingate by Wyndham Invitational Schedule
Friday, February 15
Detroit Mercy vs. ETSU - Noon (Live Stats)
Detroit Mercy vs. Charleston Southern - 2:30 p.m. (Live Stats)
ETSU vs. Charleston Southern - 5 p.m. (Live Stats)

Saturday, February 16
Virginia Tech vs. Detroit Mercy - 10 a.m. (Live Stats)
ETSU vs. Detroit Mercy - Noon (Live Stats)
Virginia Tech vs. Charleston Southern - 2:30 p.m. (Live Stats)
ETSU vs. Charleston Southern - 5 p.m. (Live Stats)

Sunday, February 17
Virginia Tech vs. ETSU - 1 p.m. (Live Stats)
Virginia Tech vs. Charleston Southern - 3:30 p.m. (Live Stats)

Recapping Charleston Southern's Early Schedule
Charleston Southern looks to continue getting its footing in the early season as the Buccaneers prepare to host their second tournament of the spring season. The Bucs welcome Detroit Mercy, ETSU, and Virginia Tech to the field as CSU continues its opening statement with 12 consecutive home games to open the 2019 season.

The Bucs have posted a 3-4 record over the first seven games of the season, including a 3-3 mark last weekend in the Willie Jewell's Invitational against Dayton, UMES, and South Dakota. CSU topped the Flyers in the season-opener as the Bucs debuted their new lights around the CSU Softball Field on Thursday night. CSU added a pair of wins over UMES in the opening weekend.

Wednesday afternoon the Bucs dropped a midweek contest to former rival Coastal Carolina as the Chanticleers took advantage of a trio of CSU errors and a late three-run home run to take the win.

The Bucs continue their home tournament schedule over the next two weekends as CSU follows up the Wingate by Wyndham Invitational with the Holy City Showdown on February 22-24 with CSU taking on Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, Marshall, and UNC Wilmington over the three-day stretch.

Scouting Charleston Southern
Sophomore infielder Sarah Brown has provided the spark behind the Charleston Southern offense early in the season as the Sacramento, Calif. native is hitting a team-leading .455 through the first seven games. Brown has provided hits in five of seven games this season, including a pair of three-hit games against both UMES and South Dakota. She has also scored seven runs, a double, a triple, and four stolen bases on the year.

Brown's offense has come in the supplement to the consistent power provided by both seniors Jade Gandara and Caitlyn Emberson. Gandara surpassed her first career mark of 2019 when the Hemet, Calif. native passed Jana Matthews (2010-13) to overtake the all-time CSU RBI record with the Bucs. Gandara leads the Bucs with three doubles and 10 RBI on the season while hitting .348 on the year.

Caitlyn Emberson has connected on the Bucs' lone home run of 2019 to move into fourth all-time in the career category with 28 home runs. Emberson is second on the team with a .520 on-base percentage and is second on the team with nine RBI this year.

Annie Bakenhus and freshman Brooklynn Brewington have also been among the team leaders this year with Bakenhus hitting .368 with a team-high eight runs scored, while Brewington is hitting .368 while occupying the second position in the CSU lineup.

Arizona Pilgrim has been the Bucs' leader in the circle this year. The senior right-hander has hurled three complete games and posted a team-high 31.0 innings pitched on the year. Holly Clark, Alyssa Heinrich, and Emily Visnic have also been in the circle this season.

Scouting Detroit Mercy
Detroit Mercy was also in action this past weekend as the Titans took part at the Total Control Sports Invitational hosted in Rosemont, Ill. The Titans posted a 3-2 overall record after dropping their first two contests against UMKC and Loyola (Ill.). Detroit Mercy followed up with wins over Evansville, Purdue Fort Wayne, and Butler to move ahead of .500 on the season.

The Titans were picked seventh overall in the Horizon League preseason poll as announced in the preseason. The team is in its fourth season under the tutelage of Head Coach John Conway and is looking to get back to the postseason after missing the conference tournament in 2018.

Detroit Mercy welcomes the return of ace Ashley Mauser as the senior has continued to build on a prolific campaign in the circle. Mauser posted school records in both single game and single-season strikeouts last season and already eclipsed the program's career strikeout list this year against UMKC. She posted a 3.59 ERA with three games started and a team-best 18 strikeouts against six walks.

Ellie Boteller has been the team's primary batting leader on the year with a .625 batting average with five hits and a home run. Kori Keyes has also connected on a home run, while Courtney Gilbert leads the team with six RBI.

Detroit Mercy will take on another Big South foe in Presbyterian on March 2 at the Madeira Beach Spring Break Tournament.

Scouting East Tennessee State
East Tennessee State opened the 2019 season this past weekend at another Big South venue as the Buccaneers traveled to Clinton, S.C. and Presbyterian College for the Blue Hose Invitational. ETSU posted a 2-0-2 overall record on the weekend winning contests against Morgan State and Akron in their first two games while recording ties against Akron and PC in their final two contests.

The ties came under unusual circumstances as ETSU's contest against Akron was cut short due to travel constraints. Their following contest against Presbyterian was also cut short, this time due to the cover of nightfall as the field became unplayable.

ETSU was picked sixth overall in the Southern Conference's preseason softball poll as announced early in the season. The Buccaneers are led by preseason All-Conference First Team selections Lauren Lee and Taylor Wright, as well as Second Team selection Nikki Grupp.

Lee again paces the offense early in the year with a team-leading .583 batting average over the first four games of the year. Wright is hitting .400 early in the year, while Grupp leads the team with a home run and nine RBI. Malloree Schurr has also stood out at the plate this season with a team-leading four extra-base hits and eight RBI.

Kelly Schmidt is the pitching team leader this season with a 3.50 ERA and a team-high two starts. She boasts a team-high 10.0 innings pitched and is tied with MacKenzie Dyson with one win apiece.

Scouting Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech brings an impressive resume to the plate this weekend as the Hokies are back in Charleston for their second consecutive weekend. VT opened the season at the Cougar Classic hosted by the College of Charleston on February 8-10 at the Patriots Point Athletic Complex.

The Hokies boast a 5-0 record with wins over Wichita State, Central Michigan, Purdue (twice) and College of Charleston. CSU will not be the lone Big South opponent Virginia Tech will face this season as the Hokies will also battle Radford twice in a home-and-home with the Highlanders set on February 27 (at Radford) and March 27 (in Blacksburg).

Virginia Tech was picked 10th overall in the ACC preseason poll but did receive a first-place vote. The Hokies were picked fifth overall in the Coastal Division. Junior pitcher Carrie Eberle was VT's lone representative on the conference's preseason All-Conference team.

However, the spotlight over the opening weekend was on sophomore pitcher Keely Rochard as she led Virginia Tech with three wins in earning ACC Pitcher of the Week honors. Rochard leads the team with a perfect 0.00 ERA over her three complete games and has posted a 30:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Eberle is 2-0 with the other two decisions on the weekend.

Shortstop Caitlyn Nolan hit .714 over the weekend with a pair of home runs, three doubles, and nine RBI in earning ACC Player of the Week recognition. Emma Strouth is also among the team leader with one home run, 10 RBI, and four doubles.

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