SB Preview: Charleston Southern faces familiar foe in No. 4 Winthrop in Big South First Round

SB Preview: Charleston Southern faces familiar foe in No. 4 Winthrop in Big South First Round

CHARLESTON, S.C. - It is a short turnaround time for No. 5 Charleston Southern and No. 4 Winthrop this weekend as the Buccaneers and Eagles will meet again for the fourth time in less than a week in the 2019 Big South Softball Championships First Round.

The Bucs (12-12 Big South) took one of the three games in last week's series against the Eagles (14-10 Big South) as Winthrop utilized a pair of late Ansley Gilreath home runs to top the Bucs.

Softball Game Notes - CSU vs. Winthrop (Big South First Round)

2019 Big South Softball Championship Central

Tournament Preview
- Charleston Southern earned the No. 5 seed in the 2019 Big South Conference postseason tournament starting on Wednesday in Buies Creek, N.C.

- The Buccaneers (12-12 Big South) took at least one game from every single Big South team this season, including their program-first win over Longwood in Farmville, Va.

- CSU is back in the postseason after missing the tournament last year – snapping a 19-year streak of the Bucs advancing to conference tournament play.

- The Bucs lead the Big South in four different individual statistical categories including hit by pitch, sacrifice bunts, sacrifice flies, and appearances in the circle.

- CSU faces a familiar foe in the tournament first round as the Bucs take on No. 4 Winthrop – the team CSU finished up the 2019 regular season with this past weekend at the CSU Softball Field.

- Five Buccaneers were recognized this past Friday for Senior Day as Destini Ewing, Jade Gandara, Caitlyn Emberson, Arizona Pilgrim, and Annie Bakenhus all played the last home games of their collegiate careers.

- CSU's season has already provided a series of high notes in their first year under the tutelage of Head Coach Venus Taylor.

- Taylor recorded her 200th career win earlier this season courtesy of the Bucs' win over Cleveland State on March 9.

- The Bucs recorded their longest conference winning streak in program history at six games, while senior utility player Jade Gandara also became the program's all-time career RBI record holder.

- The Bucs have already clinched a berth in next week's postseason tournament after missing the Big South Championships for the first time in program history in 2018. CSU's absence marked the end of a 19-year stretch when the Bucs reached the conference's postseason event.

- CSU will be relying heavily on their core senior group in the tournament against a strong Winthrop team for Senior Day as Annie Bakenhus, Destini Ewing, Jade Gandara, Caitlyn Emberson, and Arizona Pilgrim will look to lead the Bucs past the Eagles.

Scouting CSU
- Annie Bakenhus has been the team's sparkplug atop the batting order this season and paces the Bucs with a .341 batting average to go with 59 hits, nine doubles, and 30 runs scored. The Yucaipa, Calif. native sits among the Big South leaders in hits per game, as well as at-bats and plate appearances.

- Jade Gandara has steadily worked her way through her senior season with the Hemet, Calif. native again sitting among the team leaders in batting average (.286) while leading the team with 32 RBI. She's added a pair of triples and three home runs and sits tied with Emberson for the team lead with 14 extra-base hits.

- Caitlyn Emberson is back atop the Big South Conference in hit-by-pitches and the senior catcher continues to swing a powerful bat in the heart of the CSU lineup. The Taft, Calif. native leads the Bucs with seven home runs and has added 30 RBI to her season totals. She also leads the team with a .426 on-base percentage and .475 slugging percentage.

- Arizona Pilgrim paces the Big South with conference-high 42 appearances in the circle to go with 27 starts. She leads the Bucs with 175.0 innings pitched and has added 113 strikeouts. Her 3.60 ERA leads the Bucs' pitching efforts on the season.

- CSU infielders Brooklynn Brewington and Sarah Brown have also been among the Bucs' best at the plate this season. Brewington is second on the team with 43 hits, while Brown (41) is third on the team. The duo has combined for 21 of CSU's 34 stolen bases on the year.

- Holly Clark is also someone to keep an eye on in the circle for CSU this week. Clark has made 37 appearances for the Bucs this season, including 10 of the last 11 games. Her nine-strikeout complete game loss against Gardner-Webb in the opener marked a career-high for the junior, while her complete-game win over the Runnin' Bulldogs in the finale paced CSU back above .500 in conference play.

Scouting Winthrop
- Winthrop (26-23 overall) is one of four teams in the Big South this season with an overall winning record joining Longwood (34-19), USC Upstate (40-13), and Gardner-Webb (30-24).

- The Eagles clawed their way back into the postseason thanks to winning the conference series over USC Upstate on April 20-22. The Eagles took the final two games of the series at home at Terry Field to snap a three-game losing streak.

- Overall, Winthrop won season series over Presbyterian, Hampton, Gardner-Webb, USC Upstate, and Charleston Southern in conference play.

- Morgan Lowers leads the Eagles offense on the season with a .335 batting average to go with a team-high 57 hits and 35 runs scored. Ashley Westbrooks is the power hitter of the group with five home runs and 32 RBI. Tori Walker is the speedster on the base paths with her 11 stolen bases leading four players with at least five steals this season.

- Madyson Watson (14-4, 2.50 ERA) leads the Eagles in the circle with a team-high 142.2 innings pitched to go with 112 strikeouts. Kiley Majette is also among the team leaders with 31 appearances and eight wins while also recording 114 strikeouts.

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