CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern and Winthrop split Thursday's doubleheader to open a key Big South Conference softball series over the final weekend of the regular season. The Bucs took the opener, 4-1, but were unable to complete the comeback in the extra-innings 3-1 loss to the Eagles in the nightcap.
CSU (18-34, 12-11 Big South) utilized a strong performance in the circle by Holly Clark in the opener. Winthrop (25-23, 13-10 Big South) took advantage of Ansley Gilreath's eighth-inning home run to even the series.
Game One: Charleston Southern 4, Winthrop 1
Charleston Southern took advantage of a pair of Winthrop errors to put together an early lead and Jade Gandara connected on a milestone home run to pace the Buccaneers past the Eagles on Thursday afternoon, 4-1.
A pair of errors by Winthrop's Ansley Gilreath in the bottom of the third led to three CSU runs to take the early lead over the visiting Eagles. Caitlyn Emberson connected on a two-run single in the frame to help the Bucs capitalize and provide a sizeable margin Winthrop was unable to overcome in the game.
Jade Gandara connected on a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to provide insurance for the Bucs. Her solo shot was CSU's lone extra-base hit of the game as the Bucs were limited to four hits by the combined pitching duo of Kiley Majette (7-13) and Bella Roy.
Holly Clark (7-12) went the distance in her fourth complete game of the year. The junior right-hander surrendered three hits and struck out three in the win.
Majette went the first five innings allowing four hits and four runs (one earned) while striking out six. Roy went the final inning in relief.
How They Scored/Key Situations
- Madison Koger scored the first run of the ballgame as the sophomore infielder scored on Winthrop's second error of the third inning.
- Caitlyn Emberson followed with a two-run single scoring Christi Takac and Annie Bakenhus to put CSU ahead 3-0 in the third.
- Ansley Gilreath's RBI single in the top of the fifth scored Tori Walker to cut into the CSU lead.
- Gandara's leadoff home run in the bottom of the sixth provided the final margin in the win.
- Clark retired the final seven batters of the game to close out the CSU win.
Game Two: Winthrop 3, Charleston Southern 1 (8 innings)
Ansley Gilreath's go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning put Winthrop ahead for good as the teams split the doubleheader on Thursday afternoon.
Gilreath connected on a two-out, two-run home run to right centerfield scoring Madyson Watson to put Winthrop back in the lead in the eighth. The Bucs tied the game up in the bottom of the seventh inning on Rhiana Hubbard's sacrifice fly, but Gilreath's blast swung the win to the visitors and evened the series up at 1-1.
Arizona Pilgrim (10-19) suffered the loss in the circle going a season-high 8.0 innings allowing nine hits and three runs. The senior right-hander struck out two in the loss.
Watson joined her counterpart in the circle with a complete game effort allowing eight hits while striking out four.
How They Scored/Key Situations
- Keleigh Romine put Winthrop in the lead in the top of the third inning as her infield single scored Taylor Charlton to put the Eagles ahead 1-0.
- The Buccaneers threatened in multiple innings, but hit into back-to-back inning-ending double plays to limit their scoring opportunities in both the fifth and sixth frames.
- Sarah Brown's single in the top of the seventh inning skipped off the Winthrop right fielder's glove allowing the sophomore to advance to third on the play. Hubbard followed with a fly ball to the left centerfield fence scoring Brown to tie the game up.
- Gilreath's two-run shot in the top of the eighth put Winthrop ahead 3-1.
- The Bucs put one on base as Brewington reached on an error, but Morgan Lowers' leaping catch on Gandara's line drive up the middle ended the game in favor of the Eagles.
News & Notes
- Jade Gandara's solo home run in the first game was her third of the season and 40th of her career.
- Gandara became just the second player in program history to broach the 40-career home run mark.
- Charleston Southern and Winthrop are both in the hunt for the No. 3 seed in the Big South Tournament starting next weekend in Buies Creek, N.C.
Charleston Southern will recognize its five 2019 seniors prior to Friday's first pitch against Winthrop at the CSU Softball Field. The Senior Day ceremony is set to begin at 2:45 p.m., while first pitch is set for 3 p.m.