Venus Taylor

Charleston Southern softball coach Venus Taylor and the Buccaneers are 3-3 after the opening weekend.

Christian Keeling scored a game-high 27 points as visiting Charleston Southern handled UNC Asheville in Kimmel Arena on Saturday afternoon, 85-75.

The win continued a recent surge for the Buccaneers.

“I love the way this team is coming together and I am excited to see us improving each game,” CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh said. “We have won four of five but we haven’t played our best basketball yet.”

The Bucs improved to 11-12 overall and 5-5 in the Big South Conference. They are in a three-way tie for sixth in the conference.

Ty Jones, Phlandrous Fleming and Dontrell Shuler added 18, 14 and 12 respectively for the Bucs, who travel to Gardner-Webb on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

The Buccaneers host Radford at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday in a matchup televised on ESPN3.

In women’s basketball, Charleston Southern edged USC Upstate 74-62 on Saturday.

The Buccaneers improved to 8-14 overall and 5-6 in the conference. They’re 2-0 in the month of February.

Senior guard Breanna Bretches scored 21 points in the win for CSU, which hosts High Point on Feb. 12 and travel to Hampton on Feb. 16.

SOFTBALL

Senior outfielder Jade Gandara knocked in three runs in a 10-2 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday to become the career RBIs leader at Charleston Southern.

It was also the opening weekend for first-year CSU coach Venus Taylor.

Gandara’s two-run double in the bottom of the sixth pushed across her 142nd and 143rd runs, surpassing former CSU player Jana Matthews. Matthews had 141 RBIS from 2010-13.

On the weekend, CSU defeated Dayton (9-1), and Maryland-Eastern Shore (5-1 and 10-2) while falling to South Dakota (8-2 and 8-6) and Dayton (3-2).

CSU (3-3) hosts former conference rival Coastal Carolina at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13 and hosts Detroit Mercy and East Tennessee State on Feb. 15-17 before traveling to nationally-ranked South Carolina on Feb. 20.

ETSU (2-0-2) will bring back former Hanahan High School standout MacKenzie Dyson to the area. Dyson, a sophomore, is 1-0 with a 4.20 earned-run average for ETSU in three appearances.

BASEBALL

The Charleston Southern baseball team begins the 2019 season at 6 p.m., on Friday, Feb. 15 against La Salle and completes the three-game series on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Bucs travel to rival College of Charleston on Feb. 20 for a 6 p.m. start at Patriots Point.

CSU was 19-35 overall and 10-17 in the Big South last season.

FOOTBALL

Charleston Southern football coach Autry Denson welcomed 13 additional players to the next signing class. The 13 athletes join the five December early signees to complete the inaugural class under Coach. The class features players spanning from three different states, with CSU signing six players apiece from North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

“This is the culmination of a ton of hard work by so many different moving pieces,” Denson said. “There were so many different people contributing — from parents to prospective student-athletes, to my coaching staff. It’s all very rewarding. We were blessed. I kept getting asked the question what were we going to do with so little time left and my answer was always that we had the right amount of time because we were on God’s time.”

CSU’s move to the air raid offense this offseason was bolstered by the signing of four wide receivers, a quarterback and four offensive linemen. The defense signed nine players signing to suit up for the Blue Swarm.

MORE BASEBALL: College of Charleston’s baseball team begins the season at home at 4 p.m. on Friday against UNC Asheville. The Cougars host Asheville at Saturday at noon and Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Citadel opens at home against Delaware State from Feb. 15-17. They play at 4 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.