SB Preview: Bucs pick up conference play in road battle with the Blue Hose

SB Preview: Bucs pick up conference play in road battle with the Blue Hose

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern will travel to Clinton, South Carolina this weekend as the Buccaneers take on Presbyterian in a doubleheader on Saturday, with the series finale game set for Sunday afternoon.  First pitch of Saturday's doubleheader between the Bucs and the Blue Hose is set for 1:00 p.m. and Sunday's series wrap up is also scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.  Fans can follow the action via live stats on csusports.com and in-game updates on Twitter: @CSUGameday.

CSU Game Notes - Charleston Southern at Presbyterian

Scouting Presbyterian
Presbyterian enters this weekend's matchup with a 12-23 record on the season and a 1-5 mark in conference play.  The Blue Hose are coming off their midweek doubleheader loss at East Tennessee State, where they fell to the Buccaneers 3-2 in game one and 5-4 in game two.

Charleston Southern got a preview of Presbyterian earlier this season when they participated in the 2017 Willie Jewell's Invitational at CSU Softball Field.  While the Bucs didn't faceoff with the Blue Hose, Presbyterian went 3-1 in the tournament with a 4-2 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore and back-to-back victories against South Carolina State.  PC recorded their lone loss in a 11-0 shutout against Boise State.

Conference Play - #5 Charleston Southern at #8 Presbyterian
The Blue Hose were swept by #3 Winthrop in a three-game series on March 18 and 19 and fell to #2 Campbell twice last Saturday.  Presbyterian went on to top the Fighting Camels in last Sunday's series finale, 6-3.  With a 1-5 mark in conference play, The Blue Hose are currently ranked last in the league (#8). 

During the Shane Winkler era, Charleston Southern has recorded a winning record against Presbyterian, with an 18-12 mark from 2009-2016.  The Buccaneers most recently fell to the Blue Hose during last year's Big South Championship, falling to Presbyterian 8-5 in the Elimination Round.

Hope for the Best
Presbyterian's Hope Rogers is making sure to leave a last impression in her senior year.  The Gaston, South Carolina native leads the Blue Hose at the plate and ranks in the top-10 of six Big South categories, pacing the league with four triples on the season.  Rogers is batting .330 and boasts a team-high 35 hits, seven doubles and 22 RBI for a .528 slugging percentage.

What's Cooking?
Alex Cook (2-8) paces Presbyterian in the circle and is ranked fourth in the Big South with a 3.08 ERA.  The British Columbia native leads the conference with four saves and has pitched for 46 strikeouts and 16 walks in her 18 appearances.

Jonnie on the Spot
Fleet-footed sophomore Jonnie Petree is a thief to watch, with the Hendersonville, North Carolina native recording 20 stolen bases in her 23 attempts on the year.  Petree is ranked second in the Big South, following Charleston Southern's Amanda Matsumoto's 26.

Sister Act
Big South Player of the Week - Jade Gandara (March 27, 2017)...
Big South Pitcher of the Week - Cheyenne Gandara (March 27, 2017)...
For the first time in their collegiate careers, sisters Jade and Cheyenne Gandara were honored by the Big South Conference office in the same week. 

Jade led the Buccaneers at the plate with 12 hits, 10 RBI, six runs scored, and three doubles while also pacing CSU with three home runs in Saturday's doubleheader with Gardner-Webb.  The sophomore slugger batted .600 (12-20) and recorded 24 total bases for a 1.200 slugging percentage to help CSU go 5-1 on the week.

Cheyenne went 2-0 on the week with a 0.58 ERA in her two starts. She pitched a total of 12.0 innings against Coastal Carolina and Gardner-Webb finishing the week with 18 strikeouts while allowing just one earned run.  Gandara shutout the Runnin' Bulldogs with a one-hitter during CSU's first game against Gardner-Webb on Saturday, tying a program best 12 strikeouts in the 5-0 Buccaneer victory.

Homerun Hitters
Charleston Southern leads the Big South with 45 home runs this season, nearly 20 more than the next highest team in the league (Radford-26).  The Buccaneers are tied for the third most home runs of any team in the country, sharing the spot with UNCG.  The Bucs are right behind Louisiana's 47, while Arizona leads the NCAA with 51.  CSU is also tied for 15th in the nation with 1.13 home runs per game. 

Jade Gandara leads the pack of home run hitters and the Big South with 13 on the season and is tied for the fourth most homers of any softball player in the country.  Gandara also leads the conference with 87 total bases and is ranked fourth in the NCAA.

Last Time Against Presbyterian
Presbyterian 8, Charleston Southern 5
(Big South Championship Elimination Round - May 12, 2016)
No. 7 Charleston Southern was unable to ride the hot bat of Jade Gandara in Thursday's elimination game as the Buccaneers saw their season come to an end against No. 6 Presbyterian at the Big South Conference Championships, 8-5. 

Gandara went 4-for-4 from the plate with a pair of two-run home runs and two doubles in the contest to pace the Bucs offense in the game. The freshman from Hemet, Calif. went 7-for-8 overall with four home runs, two doubles, eight RBI and five runs scored over CSU's two postseason games at the 2016 Big South Championships.

Gandara homered in both the first and the seventh innings in attempt to spark CSU rallies in both frames, but CSU was unable to take advantage of 10 hits off of Presbyterian starter Sydney Seigler in the loss. Seigler went the distance for the Blue Hose, striking out two in the win.

Hayley Elkins suffered the loss for CSU in the circle after going 2.2 innings in the start. Arizona Pilgrim went the final 3.1 innings in relief, allowing three hits and two runs to close out the season.

CSU took the early lead against the Blue Hose in the top of the first inning as Gandara connected on a one-out offering from Seigler, driving the ball over the right centerfield fence and scoring Amanda Matsumoto to give the Bucs the 2-0 lead. Matsumoto led off the inning with a bunt single and advanced around the bases on a stolen base and a Stephanie Bergmann sacrifice bunt before the Gandara home run.

Erin Ruff answered for the Blue Hose in the bottom of the first. PC's leadoff batter connected on a long fly ball that nicked the top of the fence before bouncing beyond the field of play for a solo home run to narrow the CSU lead to 2-1.  Hope Rogers tied the game up for the Blue Hose in the bottom of the second inning, bringing in Jordan Ashley on a bases-loaded infield single to even the score at 2-2. 

Gandara and Caitlyn Emberson combined to give the Bucs the lead in the top of the third inning. Gandara led off the inning with a double that short-hopped the wall in left field. After Stevi Johnson dropped down a sacrifice bunt advancing Gandara to third, Emberson connected on a soft popup that fell in-between the PC fielders in shallow centerfield for an RBI single.

Rogers capped off a six-run inning for the Blue Hose in the bottom of the third with a grand slam to right centerfield as the Blue Hose took an 8-3 lead. Madison Longanecker added an RBI groundout, while Jill Harris drew a bases-loaded walk in the frame before Rogers cleared the bases with the home run.

Seigler and Pilgrim both settled in after the Rogers home run as the pitchers battled each other through scoreless frames in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

Charleston Southern mounted a rally in the top of the seventh with Gandara connecting on her second home run of the contest, this time scoring Bergmann on the play, to cut the PC lead down to 8-5. Johnson and Brittany McPherson both drew walks to bring the tying run to the plate before Seigler was able to record the final out and close out the contest.

Recapping CSU's Last Game
College of Charleston 6, Charleston Southern 5 (March 29, 2017)
Charleston Southern was unable to execute in the final innings and left seven runners on base for a narrow 6-5 loss against College of Charleston at CofC Softball Stadium on Wednesday night. 

The Buccaneers capitalized on several CofC errors after the Cougars put up three runs in the first frame with a home run from Taylor Belfiore.  CSU pulled ahead in the top of the second, recording four runs off of one hit and three defensive throwing errors.

The Cougars tied the game up in the bottom of the frame with doubles from Dana Horgan and Madi Brown to set the score at 4-4 after two complete innings.

Sister power-hitters Jade and Cheyenne Gandara opened the third with a double to left center and a single to left field to put runners on the corners with no outs.  Mallory Kasinger followed with a sacrifice fly to left for the 5-4 Buc advantage.  CofC reliever Sam Martin (5-2) retired the next batter and a rip to right center from Lexie Vanada was robbed just short of the fence to end the Buccaneer rally.

CofC responded with aggressive base running and three hits for two runs in the bottom and the inning for the 6-5 lead. 

Arizona Pilgrim (4-9) held the Cougars to just two hits for the remainder of the game, but CSU's bats went cold and the Bucs left four on base through the last four frames to close out the 6-5 defeat.

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