Charleston Southern welcomes #17/19 Missouri, #14 James Madison and USC Upstate to the CSU Softball Field this weekend as the Buccaneers open their 16 game home stand with the 2017 Wingate by Wyndham Invitational on February 10-12. The Bucs take on Missouri and James Madison on Friday, Missouri and USC Upstate on Saturday, and USC Upstate in the final game on Sunday afternoon.
Scouting Charleston Southern...
*Charleston Southern opened the season on Thursday with a doubleheader at Savannah State, where the Buccaneers swept the Tigers 15-9 in game one and 12-5 in game two.
*The Buccaneers were selected fourth overall in the Big South Conference Softball Preseason Coaches' Poll, receiving 37 points and one first-place vote in the poll.
*The Bucs' roster features a fairly balanced mix of 14 upperclassmen and 12 underclassmen, including six players from the 2014 Big South Championship run that earned the program's first berth into the NCAA postseason.
*Seniors Ashtin Kullnat, Stephanie Bergmann, Georgi DeLio, Lexie Vanada, Brittany McPherson, Stevi Johnson and 2016 Big South All-Conference Second Team selection Amanda Matsumoto will return to lead CSU's 2017 roster.
Scouting James Madison...
*JMU enters 2017 with its highest preseason ranking ever at No. 14 according to the USA Today/NFCA National Division I Top 25 Coaches Poll. The Dukes also earned a No. 16 ranking in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 preseason poll - their highest preseason ranking in the respective poll.
*With its 3-2 loss to No. 10 LSU in game three of the Super Regional, JMU was one win away from competing at the Women's College World series for the first time in program history.
*James Madison won 50 games in 2016, the most ever by a Duke softball program, and finished first in the CAA last season for the third consecutive year. The Dukes led all of
Division I softball with the best winning percentage in the country (.893).
*Mizzou received No.17 and No. 19 rankings in The USA Today / NFCA Division I Coaches and ESPN.com / USA Softball preseason polls.
*Mizzou's offense is led by 2016 NFCA Southeast All-Region honoree Chloe Rathburn, 2015 Freshman All-SEC honoree Amanda Sanchez, 2016 Freshman All-SEC honoree Regan Nash, senior Kirsten Mack and sophomore Rylee Pierce. The freshmen duo of Braxton Burnside and Cayla Kessinger are expected to slide into the Tigers' starting lineup immediately, as each enjoyed standout high school careers before joining Mizzou.
*Last year, Mizzou finished with 42 wins, marking the ninth 40-plus win campaign under head coach Ehren Earleywine.
Scouting USC Upstate...
*USC Upstate opened the season on Thursday with a doubleheader at Gardner-Webb, where the Spartans swept the Runnin' Bulldogs 8-0 in game one and 2-1 in game two.
*Upstate finished last season with a 43-15 overall record and 11-6 mark in ASUN play. The Spartans captured their third ASUN Tournament title and sixth overall (2008, 2014 and 2015 ASUN Regular Season Championship) in nine years.
*Upstate also advanced to an NCAA Regional for the fourth consecutive season and picked up one win after defeating Oregon State 5-2. The team competed in the Auburn, Ala. Regional, which was hosted by College World Series runner-up Auburn.