SB Preview: CSU makes midweek trek to Coastal Carolina

SB Preview: CSU makes midweek trek to Coastal Carolina

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern remains on the road as the Buccaneers jump back into non-conference play on Wednesday afternoon. CSU hits the road for a midweek matchup at Coastal Carolina with first pitch at the CCU Softball Stadium set for 4 p.m.

The Buccaneers are looking to bounce back from a tough stretch over the last two weekends as CSU (17-13) enters the weekend with losses in five of their last six games. The Bucs salvaged the Big South series finale thanks to a pair of two-run home runs by Caitlyn Emberson and Jade Gandara, as well as a strong pitching performance by Holly Clark.

The win over the Eagles snapped a five-game losing streak, the Bucs' second of the season. CSU opened the season strong with a 13-3 mark in the month of February, but March has not been as kind to the Buccaneers. CSU is 4-10 over the first 19 days of the month with a pair of five-game losing streaks over the stretch.

The game between the Bucs and the Chanticleers marks just the second time CSU and Coastal Carolina have taken the field against each other since Coastal Carolina joined the Sun Belt Conference in 2016-17.

The Bucs won the matchup last season at the CSU Softball Field on March 22 behind Cheyenne Gandara's pitching performance in the circle. Gandara struck out eight and allowed one earned run through six innings, while CSU's offense was paced by Stevi Johnson's home run and Stephanie Bergmann's squeeze bunt.

Coastal Carolina enters the midweek matchup with a 14-14 overall record on the season. The Chants also enter the weekend on a bit of a skid with Coastal falling in its last five games and six of its last seven.

The home and road split for the Chants is similar to Charleston Southern's in 2018. Coastal Carolina boasts a 12-8 mark at home and a 2-6 record away from the CCU Softball Stadium. CSU is 14-4 in its friendly confines but 3-9 away from Charleston this year.

Coastal Carolina is one of two Sun Belt teams the Bucs will face in the 2018 season. The Bucs fell in their lone matchup against South Alabama in the first game of the Tennessee Invitational, 4-3. The Chants will face three Big South schools this season. Coastal topped Presbyterian at the Kickin' Chicken Classic, 3-0. The Chants will travel to Winthrop for a doubleheader on March 27.

Power bats and sprinter speed has highlighted CSU's offensive efforts on the season. The Bucs lead the Big South with 36 home runs on the year and are second in the conference standings with 56 stolen bases in 2018. Those numbers put the Bucs among the NCAA's elite with CSU sitting 10th overall in the country with 1.20 home runs per game and 29th in the NCAA with 1.87 stolen bases per game.

Jade Gandara sits among the Big South's best in multiple categories on the year including batting average (4th), slugging percentage (3rd), on-base percentage (7th), runs scored (4th), hits (2nd), RBI (2nd), home runs (3rd), and total bases (2nd). Her numbers also put her among the country's best with Gandara sitting ninth in the NCAA in home runs, seventh in RBI, and ninth in total bases.

CSU's stolen base efforts have been paced by a pair of freshmen with Meghan Gagliano sitting tied for the conference lead with 15 on the year. Kendall Anderson is third in the conference with 14 steals.

Courtney Dean leads CCU's offense with a .371 average on the season with a team-high 23 hits, six home runs, and 15 RBI. Kassidy Smith is also among the team's leaders with a .297 average and a .489 on-base percentage.

Freshman Kaitlyn Beasley-Polko has led Coastal Carolina's pitching efforts on the year, while Ashley Guillette has also seen significant time in the circle in 2018. Beasley-Polko has a team-high 19 appearances and a 3.14 ERA to go with 83 strikeouts. Guillete leads the team with an 8-6 record and a 3.56 ERA in 84.2 innings pitched.

CSU continues conference play following the midweek matchup against the Chanticleers with a three-game series against Longwood. First pitch in Saturday's doubleheader at the CSU Softball Field will be featured on ESPN3.

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