CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern wrapped up with the tournament schedule this past weekend. This weekend, a new season begins as the Buccaneers host Radford for the start of the 2019 Big South Conference schedule.
The Buccaneers (6-22) open up conference play against the Highlanders (7-14) with a three-game series at the CSU Softball Field starting on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. Saturday's doubleheader between the Bucs and the Highlanders is set for noon. All three games will be streamed live via ESPN+.
The weekend series features two of the teams predicted to finish among the top half of the Big South Conference standings this year. Radford (63 points) was selected third overall in the preseason poll, while CSU (40 points) was selected fifth overall in the poll.
CSU is looking to bounce back from a difficult opening tournament stretch. The Bucs have posted wins over Dayton, Maryland Eastern Shore (twice), Detroit Mercy, UNC Wilmington, and Cleveland State to their credit this season.
The Buccaneers' most recent win over Cleveland State snapped a six-game losing streak this past weekend. Freshman Rhiana Hubbard came up with a key RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning to help CSU overcome a late rally from the Vikings in holding off the win.
Annie Bakenhus, Jade Gandara, and Caitlyn Emberson all recorded doubles and posted multi-hit games to pace the CSU offense in the contest. Emberson added a team-high two RBI in the game, while Gandara, Brown, Brooklynn Brewington, and Destini Ewing all scored runs.
Arizona Pilgrim picked up her third win of the season in the circle after going the final five innings in relief. The junior right-hander surrendered six hits and one unearned run while striking out five. Holly Clark went the first two innings in the start allowing six hits and three runs.
Radford has dropped five of their last six and 11 of their last 13 games heading into conference play. The Highlanders picked up their last win against Mercer this past Saturday in their final tune-up prior to the conference schedule.
Radford added wins over UNC Wilmington, Rhode Island, Howard (twice), CofC, and Austin Peay in their non-conference tournament slate.
Scouting Charleston Southern
Caitlyn Emberson and Annie Bakenhus have been CSU's offensive leaders sitting at the midway point in the season. The senior duo are among the conference's leaders in a number of categories including hits, on-base percentage, doubles, home runs, and hit by pitches.
Bakenhus is among the Big South leaders and paces the Buccaneers in hits (29) and doubles (8). The senior left fielder leads the Bucs with a .337 batting average with 17 runs scored and nine RBI from her leadoff spot atop the CSU lineup.
Emberson leads the Bucs and sits among the Big South leaders in RBI (18), home runs (4), and hit by pitches (7). The senior catcher recently became just the fourth player in CSU history with 30-plus home runs and perennially is among the conference's hit by pitch leaders sitting second all-time in the career category.
Madison Koger and Brooklynn Brewington both lead the conference in hitting categories on the year. Koger leads the nation with five sacrifice flies this year, while Brewington paces the Big South with seven sacrifice bunts.
Right-handers Arizona Pilgrim and Holly Clark are CSU's pitching leaders on the season. Pilgrim paces the Bucs with 20 appearances and 13 starts, while leading the Bucs with 84.1 innings pitched and a 4.48 ERA. Clark has 19 appearances and a complete game to her credit on the year.
Pilgrim is third in the Big South in both innings pitched and strikeouts, while leading the conference in appearances. Sophomore Alyssa Heinrich is the conference leader in games finished this season with 10.
Sydney Fisher leads the Highlanders offense and sits among the Big South leaders in batting average (.418), hits (33), and stolen bases (10). The sophomore outfielder is currently third overall in the conference in batting average and leads the league in hits on the year through 21 games.
Talia Douglas (.344) and Hannah Medlam (.328) are also hitting above .300 on the season for the Highlanders to pace Radford at the plate. Douglas has 22 hits and four doubles on the year, while Medlam has posted a team-high two triples. Destiny Freeman, Brooke Bond, and Hunter Mundy all lead the team with three home runs apiece.
Jessie Marvin leads the Highlanders in the circle this season with a 3-6 overall record and a 2.98 ERA on the year. She's posted a team-high 12 appearances and nine starts on the year to go with five complete games. Kayla Huffman is also among the team's leaders with nine starts and a 3.95 ERA on the year.