April 7, 2008
Spartanburg, S.C. - USC Upstate will take a step out of the conference to play host to Furman Tuesday afternoon and evening at Cyrill Stadium. Upstate enters the doubleheader with a 23-12 overall record. Furman, which owns a 14-4 lead in the all-time series, is 17-17 on the season. The games can be seen live on ASun.TV. Please visit the ASun.TV website at www.asun.tv/uscupstate for ordering information. Fans can also get live statistical updates using Gametracker via the official Upstate Athletics website at www.upstatespartans.com.
Recapping Jacksonville & North Florida
For the first time this season, the Spartans claimed back-to-back sweeps of Division I opponents and it couldn't have come at a better time. Upstate claimed sweeps at Jacksonville and North Florida to improve to 9-5 in the A-Sun and vault from sixth to second place in the league standings.
Morgan Childers was simply solid, tossing complete game shutouts against Jacksonville (4-0) and North Florida (4-0). She struck out eight batters against Jacksonville and 11 against UNF. In the second game of the North Florida doubleheader, she earned the save after pitching 2 1/3 innings of relief with four strikeouts to help the Spartans to the win. Brittany Rice also was solid in the circle, earning a four-hit shutout at Jacksonville (9-0) and getting the win against North Florida.
Upstate pounded out 42 hits and scored 23 runs in the four wins. Shay Slater led the way at the plate, going 7-for-14 with three runs, two RBIs and three stolen bases. Six other Spartans hit over .300 in the four games.
About The Competition
Furman enters Tuesday's games with a 17-17 overall record. The Paladins are 6-3 as members of the Southern Conference. Furman enters the doubleheader on a four-game winning streak and winners of six of the last seven games. The Paladins won the last two games of the series against Elon on March 29-30, split with Presbyterian on Apr. 3, and swept College of Charleston on Apr. 5-6.
Furman is hitting .249 as a team with two players hitting over .300. Abby Robertson leads the way with a .330 batting average with 19 home runs and 17 RBIs. Meredith Mielke is hitting .309 with 17 runs and 14 RBIs. Brythe Blankenship tops the club with four home runs and 22 RBIs. The Paladins own a 3.32 team ERA. Lana Mackey sees the majority of time in the circle. She is 12-13 in 27 appearances and 21 starts. She leads the team with a 3.15 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 146.2 innings. Bethany Ullrich is 5-4 in 17 appearances and 13 starts. She owns a 3.66 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 72.2 innings of work.
Sweeping The Competition
For over a month, Upstate had not recorded a doubleheader sweep, splitting seven straight doubleheaders, including the first five A-Sun dates. That trend ended Friday and Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla. The Spartans claimed a pair of shutout wins at Jacksonville Friday night, taking game one, 4-0, and game two, 9-0. Upstate then recorded back-to-back sweeps with a pair of victories at North Florida, winning game one, 4-0, and game two, 6-2. It marked the first time since Feb. 27 (Charleston Southern) that Upstate swept a doubleheader, the first time the Spartans swept an A-Sun doubleheader, and the first time this season Upstate recorded back-to-back sweeps against Division I opponents.
Seven Spartans hit over .300 during the four-game A-Sun winning streak over the weekend. Shay Slater led the way, going 7-for-14. Ana Mitchell and Amber Patterson, who teamed to lose a heartbreaking game of Spades on the bus trip back to Spartanburg, each hit .455. Kim Brasil hit .385, while Tiffany Pitcher, Heidi Gibbs and Vanesa Flores each hit .333. Upstate also got strong pitching as Morgan Childers tallied two shutout wins and a save with 23 strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA and Brittany Rice won twice with a shutout and a 0.66 ERA.
Slater Breaks Records, Set To Break More
One look at the Upstate career record book (see page 4 sidebar) will let you know just how good of a career senior Shay Slater has had in a Spartan uniform. Slater currently stands above all others with 186 runs scored, 217 games played and 216 games started. She is on pace to break a few more by season's end. She currently ranks second all-time in at bats (678), hits (254) and stolen bases (125). She ranks among the all-time leaders in 15 career statistical categories. The next record likely to fall is the stolen base record. She needs just two to tie and three to break the all-time mark of 127 held by former All-American Krista Altom.
Slater already owns the single-season school record with 89 hits (2007), 70 runs (2007) and 44 stolen bases (2006). The 70 runs scored last year also established a league record in the Peach Belt Conference.
Spartans Picking Up The Pace In Conference Play
While several of the freshmen have played well during A-Sun games, many veterans are showing the leadership needed to be successful. Tiffany Pitcher, who has raised her overall batting average by 230 points since March 27, leads all returning players with a .355 batting average in A-Sun play. She has also walked five times and laid down five sacrifice bunts. Shay Slater ranks third on the team with a .355 batting average against A-Sun competition with nine runs and six stolen bases. Heidi Gibbs is hitting .313 with a team-high 10 runs, while Ana Mitchell is hitting .300 against A-Sun foes.
With the veterans leading, several freshmen have posted strong numbers in their first season on the college level. Lauren Quevedo leads the team with a .425 batting average during A-Sun games. Kim Brasil is hitting .317 and has eight RBIs, while Courtney Feldon is hitting .300. Finally, Morgan Childers owns a 1.04 ERA with seven wins, five shutouts, 81 strikeouts and a .176 opponents batting average in 60.2 innings of work against A-Sun foes.
Brasil Breaks Home Homerless Streak
Entering the second game of the doubleheader against East Tennessee State on March 24, Upstate had not hit a home run at Cyrill Stadium this season. Prior to Kim Brasil's two-run homer in the fifth inning, the Spartans had gone 13 games and 94 1/3 innings without a home run at the stadium. No Spartan has hit a homer since her blast with 14 of Upstate's 15 home runs on the year coming away from the friendly confines of Cyrill Stadium.
Childers Earns Upstate's First A-Sun Weekly Honor
Standout freshman pitcher Morgan Childers didn't take long to make a name for herself at Upstate, striking out a school record 18 batters in the season opener against Tusculum on Feb. 13. She can add another milestone to her list of accomplishments after she was named the Atlantic Sun Conference's Pitcher of the Week on March 17. She became the first Upstate softball player to earn a weekly conference award from the A-Sun in this, the first year of membership in NCAA Division I and the A-Sun. She earned the award after posting a 3-1 record with a 0.76 ERA, 36 strikeouts and two shutouts the week of Mar. 10-16.
Heidi Gibbs tops the Spartans with 14 multi-hit games this season. She has notched two hits on 13 occasions and three hits once. Shay Slater is second to Gibbs with 12 multi-hit games, while Kim Brasil has turned in 11. Brasil tops the Spartans with six multi-RBI games, driving in two runs five times and three on one occasion. Vanesa Flores is second with four multi-RBI games. Gibbs and Courtney Feldon are tied atop the list for the longest hitting streak of the year, both turning in nine-game hitting streaks this season. Slater currently owns the longest active hitting streak at five games.
Spartans In The A-Sun
In its first season as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, Upstate is turning in some strong numbers and ranks among the league leaders in several categories. The Spartans currently rank third in the league in hitting with a .287 batting average, third in pitching with a 1.94 ERA and fifth with a .962 fielding percentage.
Individually, Heidi Gibbs ranks third in the conference with a .383 batting average and 10th with a .454 on base percentage. Shay Slater ranks fourth with 19 stolen bases. In the circle, Morgan Childers tops the league with a .164 opponent's batting average, ranks second in the league with a 1.19 ERA, 18 wins and eight shutouts, third with 192 strikeouts, fourth with two saves and 18 complete games, fifth with 153.1 innings pitched and 28 appearances, and sixth with 20 games started.
Pitcher Queen Of The Sacrifice
Senior catcher/first baseman Tiffany Pitcher has accomplished a lot in her four years at Upstate. She currently ranks first all-time with a .991 fielding percentage. With a sacrifice on March 16, she surpassed Erin Driggers for first on the all-time sacrifice bunts list at Upstate. She now has 34 in her four-year career.
Spartans At Cyrill Stadium
Upstate has called Cyrill Stadium home since Feb. 13, 2002, when the Spartans opened the season, and the Cyrill Stadium era, with a doubleheader sweep of Southern Wesleyan. Upstate has been strong at home, turning in a 110-35 record in seven-plus seasons at the stadium, a .759 winning percentage at the facility. Upstate's top season in the stadium was in 2006 when the Spartans were 22-4 at home.
Childers Moves Into Top 10
Though not even a full season into her college career, freshman Morgan Childers has already moved into the Top 10 in three career statistical categories. She currently ranks seventh with eight shutouts and two saves, and eighth with 192 strikeouts. In 28 appearances, she has tallied 192 strikeouts and has totaled 10 or more strikeouts in eight games this season, including a single-game school record 18 against Tusculum in her collegiate debut on Feb. 13 and 13 in the one-hit shutout at Campbell on March 28.
Morgan Childers - Record Breaker
Freshman pitcher Morgan Childers had a tremendous start to her collegiate career when she stepped into the circle on Feb. 13 against Tusculum. The righty struck out 18 batters and tossed a no-hitter in her collegiate debut. The 18 strikeouts broke a school record that stood for nearly 16 years. Debra Rozier had struck out 15 batters in a 2-0 shutout of Austin Peay on March 8, 1992.
Spartans In Tournament Play
Upstate has played in two tournaments this spring, going 5-2 in tourney play. The Spartans went 2-2 at the First Pitch Classic hosted by Charlotte Feb. 23-24. Upstate claimed an 8-2 win over Stony Brook in the tournament opener. The Spartans fell twice to Kent State, losing 8-3 on Feb. 23 and 5-0 on Feb. 24. Upstate then went 11 innings, with Morgan Childers pitching all 11 innings, to take a 4-3 victory over Charlotte. Upstate went 3-0 at the Tar Heel Invitational Mar. 8-9, finishing with wins over Lafayette (6-0), James Madison (7-5) and Princeton (6-2).
Bayer, Berrong In The Hall
Former USC Upstate standout softball players Beth Bayer and Stacey Berrong are the only two members of the softball program to be inducted into the Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame. Berrong was the program's first inductee and was elected to the Hall in 2005. She played for Upstate from 1996-99. She currently ranks among the program's all-time greats in 15 career statistical categories, including topping the list with 46 home runs, 215 RBIs, 425 total bases and 87 walks. Bayer was the program's second and last inductee into the Hall, being elected in 2006. She was a member of the program for just two seasons, but put up impressive numbers. She currently ranks among the all-time career leaders in nine statistical categories. She tops the all-time list with a .799 slugging percentage, ranks second with 28 home runs and third with 79 stolen bases. Head coach Chris Hawkins was also inducted into the Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame, entering the shrine in 2003. However, with over 460 wins in his career, he was not enshrined because of his accomplishments as a softball coach. Instead, he was elected to the Hall for his exploits as a member of the baseball program from 1986-87. Hawkins was a pitcher for the team after the program was reestablished and moved from a club sport to varsity level. Hawkins became the first Upstate baseball player to be elected the Athletics Hall of Fame at Upstate.