CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern wraps up its positional previews this weekend as the Buccaneers sit just five days from the first pitch of the 2019 season. The Bucs open the year with the CSU Invitational at home against Dayton on February 7.
Today's preview features the fleet-footed outfield as the Buccaneers return a group that finished among the conference's and nation's best in stolen bases in 2018.
Newcomers: Rhiana Hubbard
Things to Watch from the Outfielders
Bakenhus Runs the Show
Senior Annie Bakenhus made a name for herself in her first season with the Buccaneers this past year. The Yucaipa, Calif. native transferred into CSU from Bethune-Cookman and her impact was felt in the starting lineup as she was one of five CSU players to start all 56 games in 2018. Bakenhus earned Second Team All-Conference recognition after finishing second on the team with a .353 batting average while lining up in the leadoff and heart-of-the-order positions in the batting order. She finished among the conference leaders with 13 stolen bases and finished her season on a high note with six hits, four doubles, and a home run in the final series against Radford. Bakenhus will lead a youthful unit in the outfield that features three true sophomores and a freshman.
Gagliano/Anderson Rule the Base Paths
Charleston Southern was one of two teams to finish in the NCAA's top-30 in both home runs and stolen bases per game this past season due in large part to the efforts of their freshmen speedsters. Meghan Gagliano and Kendall Anderson both return to the CSU lineup this season after combining for 43 steals in 52 attempts to both sit among the conference's top five in the categories. Gagliano earned Big South All-Freshman recognition last season after lining up in 44 games and earning 21 starts. She posted a career-high three stolen bases against Presbyterian last season and wrapped up a strong freshman year with three extra-base hits over the final eight games, including triples against Campbell and Liberty. Anderson saw time in 38 games, earning three starts on the year. The Charlotte, N.C. native came on strong at the end of the year and showed her moxie on the base paths with a pair of steals against SEC power Tennessee. The duo will be ready to hit the paths running again this year supplemented by speedsters Brooklynn Brewington, Rhianna Hubbard, and company.
Hubbard Ready to Roll
Rhiana Hubbard will be ready to make an impact on the field and in the lineup when the season starts on February 7. The Fairfield, Ohio joins former high school teammate Madison Koger on the CSU roster - one of two pairs of former high school teammates to grace the CSU roster. Hubbard was a three-time Defensive Player of the Year earning First Team All-Conference and All-League recognition over her final three seasons. Hubbard and returner Taylor Gleason will battle for playing time right away to continue CSU's ability to take away the gaps against opposing defenses this season.
"Annie is a very aggressive player who goes hard all the time, has very good game instincts, and leads us in the outfield. We have a lot of returners that are young, but her ability to work with our young outfielders will help us out as they continue to develop." – Head Coach Venus Taylor.
"Speed kills; there's no substitute for it. We have Taylor, Meghan, and Rhiana out in the outfield with Annie and they can cover a lot of ground. I'm really excited to see what they can do. When they're at the plate and get on base, you know that we'll be able to get them in." – Taylor on the speed of the youthful outfield.
56 – Stolen bases accumulated by Gagliano (23), Anderson (20), Bakenhus (13) in 65 attempts in 2018.
24 – Extra base hits returning in the outfield for the Buccaneers paced by Bakenhus' 13 (10 doubles, three home runs) and Gleason's seven (two doubles, one triple, four home runs.
.353 – Batting average by Annie Bakenhus, second on the Bucs in 2018.