Charleston Southern saw their postseason run come to an end on Saturday afternoon at the NCAA Knoxville Regional Tournament as the Buccaneers fell to Lipscomb, 4-2, at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
Georgi DeLio connected on a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth for the Buccaneers, scoring Lizzy Olmstead and Stevi Johnson to tie the game up at 2-2. However, Sturdivant connected on the first pitch against CSU starter Jennifer Giles in the top of the seventh drilling a solo home run to straightaway centerfield and Dee Baddley added an RBI single to propel the Bisons to the win.
Charleston Southern sees their season come to an end with a 27-33-1 record overall following the loss to Lipscomb. The Bisons advance to take on Virginia Tech in an elimination game on Saturday evening.
"I just want thank God so much for this team and opportunity," CSU head coach Shane Winkler commented after the game. "For all the things we accomplished this season, we're so absolutely proud of this group. This is a team that fights as you saw in this game right here. We had opportunities to win and fought all the way down to the last inning, but that's what this group is all about and why we're here."
Seniors Ari Tedesco, Morgan Dowdy, Jessica Brock, Lizzy Olmstead, Stephanie Sbardella and Hayes Holdsworth all played their final game in the CSU Blue and Gold, wrapping up one of the most successful senior classes in Buccaneers history. The quartet combined for an NCAA Regional berth, a Big South Championship, two trips to the Big South Championship game, the first 30+ win season in program history and 100 career victories during their time with the program.
"We did a tremendous job of representing Charleston Southern, the Big South, ourselves and the Lord," Winkler said. "We're absolutely proud of this group of kids. I'm so proud of our seniors and all they've accomplished throughout their careers here. We've gotten a taste of what regional play is all about now and that's what this last game was all about; games that can go either way. We return a group of young kids that will get back here plenty of times and they know what it's like and what it's all about now."
Giles (11-13) went 6.1 innings in the contest, allowing six hits and three runs (one earned) in the game in taking the loss. The CSU right-hander struck out two and consistently battled through runners on base in the contest in taking the loss. Morgan Dowdy faced two batters in relief in the seventh inning, while Cheyenne Gandara closed out the game inside the circle in recording the final two outs.
Ashley Anderson (20-7) went the distance for the Bisons in the contest as the left-hander scattered six CSU hits and allowed two runs. She walked four and struck out four in the victory to propel Lipscomb to the victory.
Lipscomb put a run across in the top of the first as the Bisons on Mimi Cartwright's one-out RBI double to the right centerfield gap. Cartwright connected on the 3-1 pitch from Giles, driving in Brittany Elmore who reached earlier in the frame on an error to give Lipscomb the 1-0 lead. The Bisons loaded the bases in the frame, threatening to break the inning open as Kristen Sturdivant was hit by a pitch and Haley Elliot drew a walk, but Giles escaped the jam on a grounder to Jessica Brock at second base to end the inning and limit the damage.
Giles escaped a second bases-loaded situation in the top of the second inning on a ground out to Stephanie Bergmann at shortstop to keep the game at 1-0 in favor of the Bisons. Dee Baddley and Elmore reached on back-to-back one out singles in the frame. After a foul ball caught by Natalie Yonan in front of the CSU dugout, Cartwright drew a walk to load the bases, but Giles forced chopped grounder up the middle to Bergmann who tossed the ball to Brock at second to end the inning.
Neely drove in the second run for the Bucs in the top of sixth inning as Charleston Southern took advantage of a second CSU error, doubling the Lipscomb lead. Elmore reached on a two-out error on a sharp grounder down the third base line and stole second base to reach scoring position for Neely. The Lipscomb junior third baseman drilled a single up the middle, scoring Elmore to put the score at 2-0.
Brock nearly put the Buccaneers on the scoreboard with one swing in the bottom of the sixth, drilling the first offering from Anderson to left field. The ball slammed off the top of the padding and bounced back into play for a lead-off single for CSU. With Olmstead in to run for Brock, Stevi Johnson connected on a two-out single through the right side of the infield. Hayes Holdsworth drew a full-count walk to load the bases before Georgi DeLio singled to centerfield bringing Olmstead and Johnson across to put tie the game up at 2-2.
Sturdivant answered the Charleston Southern rally in the top of the seventh with one swing, drilling the 1-0 offering over the centerfield fence to put the Bisons ahead 3-2. After Rena' Cothron flew out to left field, Morgan Dowdy entered the circle. A walk issued to Elliot and a single by Brianne Welch brought Gandara into the game for the Bucs and the CSU freshman responded by striking out Bridgette Begle. Baddley followed with a bloop single down the left field line to provide an insurance run for the Bisons, scoring pinch-runner Jordan Abell to put the Lipscomb lead back to two.
Charleston Southern put runners on base in the bottom of the seventh as CSU attempted one final rally against the Bisons. Matsumoto drew a one-out walk, but was forced at second on Brock's fielder's choice. In the final at-bat of the game, Sbardella connected on a sharp line drive to right field, but the shot was straight at Welch to end the contest and the Buccaneers' season.
In her final collegiate game, Brock went 2-for-4 from the plate for the Buccaneers. Fellow senior Sbardella added a single in the game, while DeLio had two hits and two RBI.