CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern returns to the CSU Softball Field this week for a midweek doubleheader against Furman. The Bucs welcome the Paladins for the two-game stint on Wednesday afternoon with first pitch set for 2 p.m. on the Big South Network.
CSU entered the past weekend with a six-game winning streak following midweek wins over College of Charleston and Savannah State, while also sweeping Presbyterian. The streak came to an end at Gardner-Webb as the Runnin' Bulldogs took two of the three contests over the weekend at Brinkley Stadium in Boiling Springs, N.C.
The Bucs topped Gardner-Webb in the second game of the series that spanned Saturday and Sunday due to rainfall in the top of the third inning. CSU sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the first inning with Jade Gandara and Mallory Kasinger connecting on back-to-back home runs to highlight the 9-1 win over GWU.
CSU continues to utilize speed and power this season as the Bucs look to continue their success in the midweek matchup. The Bucs are the only team in the NCAA in the top 20 in both home runs (1.11, 14th) and stolen bases per game (2.05, 16th).
The midweek doubleheader against Furman is one of CSU's final non-conference games in 2018. The Bucs close out the non-conference portion of the 2018 schedule on the road on Wednesday, May 2, in Columbia against No. 11 South Carolina.
CSU's doubleheader against the Paladins will be streamed live via the Big South Network with Kevin O'Rourke and John Peters calling the action. Live stats for both games can be accessed on the CSU Softball schedule page with in-game updates provided on the CSU Twitter accounts, @CSUSports and @CSUGameDay
Furman enters the weekend boasting one of the better records in the Southern Conference as the Paladins sit 29-10 overall on the year in 2018. Furman enters the weekend on a five-game winning streak after sweeping a doubleheader from Winthrop and then taking all three games against East Tennessee State in conference play over the weekend.
The five-game winning streak followed a four-game losing streak after Furman was swept by UNC Greensboro and dropped a 1-0 contest at South Carolina on March 28. The Paladins boasted a 10-game winning streak from February 21 – March 3 that included a trio of wins over Presbyterian, two victories over both Indiana and Mount St. Mary's.
Furman is one of three SoCon teams in 2018 with more than 20 wins on the season. The Paladins were picked second overall in the poll receiving 29 points and three first-place votes overall. Furman starter Lindsey Bert was named the Preseason Pitcher of the Year, while shortstop Brittany Houston, pitcher Emily Demonte, first baseman AnnaRose Borrelli, outfielder Lauren Duggar, and designated player Taylor Vahle were named to the SoCon Preseason All-Conference team.
Bert has lived up to her billing this season with a 1.78 ERA and an 18-7 overall record on the year. She has a team-high 23 complete games and seven shutouts to go with a 227:41 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Bert has thrown 177.1 innings out of Furman's 266.1 played in 2018.
Bert has also gotten it done at the plate this season with a .263 batting average to go with 10 doubles, four home runs, and 21 RBI. Candace Johnson leads the offensive efforts with a .296 batting average, while Borrelli leads the team with eight home runs and 30 RBI. Cash (six triples, 18 steals) and Duggar (20 steals) have led Furman's speed game this season.
Caitlyn Emberson has been nigh unstoppable over the last month and a half as the junior utility player boasts one of the more impressive on-base streaks of the season this year. Emberson topped her previous career high by reaching base in 23 consecutive games with the streak dating back to March 7 against Savannah State. Her previous high of 19 games came back in the 2016 season. CSU's leadoff batter for the majority of 2018, Emberson has been hit by 19 pitches and drawn 26 walks to boast a .482 on-base percentage.
BACK-TO-BACK (AND REPEAT)
Following Jade Gandara and Mallory Kasinger's back-to-back home runs at Gardner-Webb this past weekend, the Buccaneers have connected on back-to-back home runs in six separate games in the 2018 season. Kasinger has been involved in the last three back-to-back home runs over the weekend, while Sarah Brown has also been involved in three of the six connections. Madison Koger and Taylor Gleason were the first to accomplish the feat on February 16 against Valparaiso.
Approaching the Team Stolen Base Record
Charleston Southern is rapidly approaching the team single-season stolen base record as the Bucs continue to put together one of the best seasons in school history on the base paths. CSU enters the week with 90 stolen bases in 2018. The total is already the second-most in CSU history behind only the 1993 season. That year, paced by Stephanie Schwartz's 23 stolen bases, the Bucs recorded 92 thefts. CSU has recorded 69 (2016) and 62 (2017) stolen bases in each of the past two seasons, but with four players over double-digits in the stolen base category, CSU could approach a top 10 season in Big South history this year. The 10th-most stolen bases in conference history were recorded by Winthrop in 1996 with the Eagles swiping 108 that season.
Approaching the Home Run Record
Paced by the power bats of Jade Gandara and Mallory Kasinger, CSU has already put together a top-five performance in Buccaneer history at the plate this season. The Bucs enter the weekend leading the Big South with 49 home runs thanks in part to the double-digit efforts by the CSU sluggers. Gandara paces the Bucs with 12 on the year, while Kasinger is second with 11. Freshmen Sarah Brown (7) and Nina Del Rio (6) also are among the team leaders, while Caitlyn Emberson connected on her sixth shot of the season this past weekend. Overall, eight different players have connected on home runs this year. Three of the most successful home run seasons in CSU history have occurred in the last three years with a school-record 65 home runs occurring last season.
CSU Single Season Home Run Records
65 – 2017
62 – 2015
49 – 2013
49 - 2018
45 – 2016
45 – 2010
45 - 2017
Nearing Single Season Wins in Winkler Era
With the Bucs 41 games into the 2018 season and still having 15 scheduled through the remainder of the regular season, CSU could be on its way to posting its sixth 30-plus win season and fourth in the Winkler coaching era. The Bucs enter the weekend with 25 wins and have won seven of their last nine that includes CSU's first win over College of Charleston since 2013. The Bucs set the single-season wins mark in 2012 with 33 victories. They added 31 wins in 2015 and 30 in 2010.