CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern returns to the friendly confines of the CSU Softball Field for a midweek contest with Savannah State on Wednesday afternoon as the Bucs host the Tigers in non-conference play. First pitch between the Bucs and SSU is set for 2 p.m.
CSU (13-8) will be looking to shake off a rough weekend in its first road trip of the season as the Bucs went 0-5 at the Tennessee Invitational hosted by the University of Tennessee. The Bucs fell to the Volunteers (twice), Toledo (twice), and South Alabama over the five-game stretch while playing at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
The Bucs will attempt to snap their longest losing streak of the season after posting the longest winning streak in the Shane Winkler era over the previous two weekends. CSU had won eight consecutive games prior to this past weekend and ride that home winning streak into the matchup against the Tigers.
Jade Gandara (.439) and Annie Bakenhus (.400) pace the Buccaneers' lineup on both the front and back-ends of the starting nine that Winkler puts on the field. Gandara, primarily batting in the second position in the lineup, leads the Bucs with 20 runs scored, 29 hits, seven home runs, and 24 RBI. Bakenhus, utilizing her speed in the last position in the batting order, has seven stolen bases to go with 18 hits and 11 runs scored while boasting a .481 on-base percentage.
The Bucs have utilized the long ball on countless occasions this season with CSU posting back-to-back home runs on four different occasions, while also connecting on multiple home runs in their last six home games, including three apiece against George Mason (Feb. 24), Hartford (Feb. 24), and St. Bonaventure (Feb. 28).
Four different CSU players have posted at least five home runs to date paced by Gandara's seven homers this season. Mallory Kasinger adds six and is second on the team with 21 RBI, while freshmen Sarah Brown (5) and Nina Del Rio (5) have been outstanding at the plate in the early going for the CSU offense.
Speed has also been a key factor to the Bucs' early-season success with CSU boasting four players with multiple stolen bases on the season. Freshman Meghan Gagliano has been the primary recipient of the Bucs' stolen base attempts with 12 steals in 15 attempts on the year. Kendall Anderson (7) and Annie Bakenhus (7) have also showcased their ability on the base paths, while Sarah Brown (3) has also been adept at swiping the extra base when needed.
The Bucs' pitching staff took their licks this past weekend at the Tennessee Invitational with the team allowing at least four runs in all five games in Knoxville, including 13 in a loss to the No. 5/5 Volunteers.
Holly Clark (4-3) leads CSU's efforts in the circle with three shutouts and a 1.70 ERA on the year, while Alyssa Heinrich boasts the best overall record at 5-1. Arizona Pilgrim has been the most battle-tested for the Bucs this year with the junior posting a team-high 43.0 innings pitched and 27 strikeouts.
The Bucs welcome a Savannah State team that has struggled this season as the Tigers enter the midweek contest with a 3-8 overall record. It will be SSU's first true road game of the season when they make the trip to Charleston.
Brianna Harris leads SSU's hitting efforts with a .484 batting average on the year to go with 10 runs scored, while Cortni Jones is the team's power leader with a pair of home runs and two doubles.
Amanda Hallman reprises her role as the ace in the circle with a team-best 2-4 record to go with a 5.12 ERA and two complete games.
Charleston Southern is back on the road this weekend although the Bucs remain local as CSU travels down to Patriots Point for the Holy City Showdown hosted by College of Charleston on March 9-11.