April 4, 2008

Childers, Rice Toss Shutouts In Spartan Sweep

April 4, 2008

Box Score - Game 1
Box Score - Game 2

Jacksonville, Fla. - USC Upstate pitchers Morgan Childers and Brittany Rice each tossed complete game shutouts Friday night against Jacksonville as the Spartans swept the A-Sun doubleheader over the Dolphins by scores of 4-0 and 9-0.

Upstate improved to 21-12 overall and 7-5 in the A-Sun. Jacksonville fell to 18-28 overall and 4-8 in the league. The pair of wins marks the first sweep for the Spartans since Feb. 27 when Upstate took two games from non-conference foe Charleston Southern. It also marks the first sweep of an A-Sun opponent this season, the first for the Spartans as members of the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Upstate will remain in Jacksonville to take on North Florida Saturday at 10:00 a.m. The game time was moved up three hours from its original starting time of 1:00 p.m. due to the threat of severe weather forecasted for Saturday afternoon.

"The monkey is off our back," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "It really looked like the team was ready to end the streak of splitting our conference games. They came out in the second game and executed offensively and Brittany pitched a good game"

A pair of defensive plays also highlighted the sweep. Kim Brasil made a key play in left field in game one, gunning out a runner heading to third that ended up saving a run in the fifth inning. In the second game, Shay Slater fielded a single in center field and threw home where Spartan catcher Tiffany Pitcher jumped to catch the ball and came down with the tag to get a Dolphin runner trying to score from second, preserving the shutout.

Childers was solid in the first game, limiting Jacksonville to just four hits while striking out eight. She improved to 17-5 on the year.

Upstate scored all four of its runs in game one in the third inning. After Heidi Gibbs led off the inning with a walk and Shay Slater singled up the middle, both runners stole a base to put runners on second and third. Courtney Feldon followed with an RBI single. Lauren Quevedo lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to score Slater. Feldon later scored when pinch runner Courtney Tate stole second and the throw got away from the Jacksonville shortstop allowing Feldon to trot home from third. With Tate on third, Pitcher executed a squeeze bunt that drove in the fourth and final run.

The 4-0 lead was all that Childers would need. Jacksonville starter Shannon Jansen went the distance, allowing three earned runs on four Upstate hits. She struck out six in falling to 8-11 on the year. The Dolphin defense committed five errors in the game.

Slater led the way with two hits and three stolen bases for the Spartans offensively. She is now just two stolen bases away from tying Upstate's all-time record of 127 held by former All-American Krista Altom.

Rice was just as unstoppable in game two as Childers was in game one. She allowed just four hits in the game, walked just one batter, and struck out one to improve to 3-6 on the year. The only threat Jacksonville could put together was squashed when Slater threw out a runner at the plate from center field on Pitcher's solid play at the plate.

Rice benefited from the explosion at the plate by the Spartans. Upstate pounded out 14 hits and scored nine runs in the shutout.

The Spartans jumped on top with a run in the first inning when Gibbs scored on a passed ball. Upstate made it 2-0 in the second inning on an RBI single by Brasil. Brasil would not be done, though. After Vanesa Flores crushed a solo home run to lead off the third, Brasil connected on a two-run homer that bounded off of a palm tree in right center to give Upstate a commanding 5-0 lead.

Upstate added to the lead with four runs in the sixth inning to open a 9-0 lead. After a walk to lead off the inning, Rice got three straight outs to end the game early because of the mercy rule.

Brasil finished the game with two hits and three RBIs to lead a potent Spartan attack in the game. Gibbs, Slater, Ana Mitchell and Amber Patterson each finished with two hits, while Quevedo added two hits and two RBIs.

Jackosnville starter Ashley Iveson tossed 2 2/3 innings, giving up five runs to take the loss. She fell to 2-8 on the year.

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