Upstate Opens Season at Palmetto State Showdown
Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate softball team will open the 2001 season on the road at the Palmetto State Showdown for the second straight season, but this time the Spartans hope the winter weather will not be a factor. Last year, the Spartans played two games in the tournament before heavy snowfall canceled the second and third days of the tournament. Upstate will open the season Friday against Coastal Carolina at 5:00 p.m. with games against Charleston Southern (Saturday, 3:00 p.m.), Winthrop (Sunday, 3:00 p.m.) and South Carolina (Sunday, 5:00 p.m.) to follow.
Upstate was 8-2 last season against the four teams it will face in this weekend's action at the Palmetto State Showdown. The Spartans swept the games against Charleston Southern (3-0), South Carolina (2-0) and Winthrop (2-0), while going 1-2 against Coastal Carolina. Upstate is 11-3 all-time against Charleston Southern, 3-8 against Coastal Carolina, 2-1 against South Carolina and 3-1 against Winthrop. Overall, the Spartans are 19-12 all-time against the four teams and 14-7 against the teams since moving to Division I in 2008.
Upstate is coming off a tremendous 2010 season that saw the Spartans turn in several strong individual performances en route to the team winning a Division I era school record 41 games, qualifying for the six-team A-Sun Tournament and advancing to the championship game of the league tournament in the program's first year of eligibility for postseason play. The Spartans return six seniors and seven starters to this year's team for head coach Chris Hawkins, now in his 17th season at the helm of the program.
Fans can follow the action online with live statistical updates using Gametracker via the official South Carolina Athletics website, www.gamecocksonline.com. Recaps and stats will be available following the games online at the official Upstate Athletics website, www.upstatespartans.com.
Childers Earns Preseason All-Conference Honors
Senior hurler Morgan Childers has racked up a number of individual honors in her time in the circle at Upstate. Once again, she has been given high praise after being voted a preseason all-conference selection by the A-Sun coaches. Childers has earned three postseason all-conference nods in her career, two first team selections (2008 & 2010) and one second team honor (2009).
Upstate Picked Second in Preseason Coaches Poll
Upstate received two first-place votes and 100 points to take second in the A-Sun Preseason Coaches Poll released by the A-Sun in its preseason softball coverage. The Spartans were picked to finish behind defending regular season and tournament champion, Lipscomb. The Lady Bisons took home seven first-place votes and 118 points. Kennesaw State received one vote and totaled 94 points to finish third in the poll.
Childers Owns Seven Career Records at Upstate
Morgan Childers enters her senior season already the owner of seven career records at Upstate. She tops the all-time list with 84 wins, 963 strikeouts, 240 batters struck out looking, 32 shutouts, a .162 opponent batting average, 122 appearances and 693.2 innings pitched.
Brasil Tops Nation in Doubles in 2010
Senior Kim Brasil had a strong season as a junior in 2010. She gained national notoriety by leading the country with 21 doubles, tying Hawaii's Jessica Iwata. Iwata, though, reached 21 doubles during the team's run in the College World Series.
Childers Finished 2010 Among Nation's Leaders
Morgan Childers not only turned in the greatest season in the circle ever for Upstate, she ranked among the nation's elite pitchers in 2010. She ranked in the top four in four statistical categories. She ranked second in the nation with a 1.01 ERA, third with 3.23 hits allowed per game, and fourth with 428 strikeouts and 16 shutouts. She also ranked seventh with 34 wins and 10th with 11.1 strikeouts per game.
Upstate Sets Division I Era Record for Wins in 2010
By all accounts, the 2010 season was a tremendous success for the Spartans. Not only did Upstate earn a spot in the six-team A-Sun Tournament as the No. 4 seed, the Spartans advanced to the championship game of the tournament. Along the way, they won 41 games, the most ever in Upstate's Division I era, topping the 34 won in 2008 when the Spartans claimed a share of the A-Sun regular season championship.
Spartans Return Veteran Group
Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins is in his 17th year at the helm of the softball program. The 2011 Spartans may very well be the most veteran group he has ever coached. Six seniors return to the team, with seven starters returning from the 2010 team that won 41 games. In addition, Upstate has three returning pitchers on this year's team, including standout Morgan Childers.
Upstate to Battle Nation's Elite
In addition to a brutal A-Sun schedule, Upstate will hit the diamond against some of the nation's elite programs in 2011. The Spartans will travel to Seattle, Washington, to take on Washington and Oregon State. Washington was ranked No. 1 in the country throughout the 2010 season and advanced to the College World Series. The Huskies are ranked 10th and 11th in the preseason USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 polls. The Beavers have received votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. In addition, Upstate will travel to Athens, Ga., to take on Georgia. The Bulldogs also advanced to the College World Series a year ago and are ranked No. 3 and No. 4 in the preseason polls.
Four Spartans Earn A-Sun Postseason Honors
After finishing tied for fourth in the regular season standings, Upstate had four players earn postseason honors in 2010. Pitcher Morgan Childers and center fielder Crislyn Chewning were first team all-conference selections. Childers led the A-Sun in wins and strikeouts, and moved into second place on the conference's all-time strikeouts list. She tossed two no-hitters in 2010 and totaled 428 strikeouts. Chewning led the A-Sun in hitting for the second half of the season and finished fourth in the league with a .356 batting average. She also finished the year as the third-toughest player to strikeout in the nation.
In addition to Childers and Chewning, outfielder Katie Zauner earned second team honors after leading the league in hitting during the first half of the season and finishing with a .303 batting average. Ericka Harris took over the reigns as the everyday starter at catcher and earned all-freshman honors.
The four postseason selections marked the second-most in school history as members of the A-Sun. The 2008 squad had seven postseason selections with Childers earning first team honors, Heidi Gibbs and Lauren Quevedo taking home second team honors and Childers, Quevedo, Kim Brasil and Courtney Feldon being selected to the all-freshman team. Childers and Brasil were second team all-conference honorees in 2009.
Childers Earns ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District Honors
While having the best season of any Upstate pitcher in the history of the program and receiving accolades for her play on the field, Morgan Childers received a high honor for her work in the classroom after being named a second team Academic All-District selection by ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA. Childers carries a 3.47 GPA as a secondary education major and was named Upstate's Female Student-Athlete of the Year in 2010. She is the first Upstate softball player to earn Academic All-District honors.
Spartans Top All South Carolina Schools in RPI
The state of South Carolina has nine schools that field Division I programs in softball. Upstate topped them all in the final RPI ranking released by the NCAA for 2010. Upstate ranked 63rd in the nation and was the only South Carolina school in the top 100. South Carolina was second at 109 and was followed by Winthrop (111) in third.
Spartans to Host A-Sun Tournament
Upstate was awarded the 2011 and 2012 A-Sun Softball Tournament as voted on by the league administrators at the annual conference meetings in June. The tournament will be played at Cyrill Stadium and will take place May 11-14 this year.
Spartans Strong at Home
Since opening Cyrill Stadium in 2002, Upstate has been tough to beat at home. The Spartans were 24-6 in 2010 and set a school record for winning in 2009 with an 18-3 mark for an .857 winning percentage. Upstate is 146-41 all-time at home since 2002.
Childers Second on A-Sun Career Strikeouts, Wins Lists
Morgan Childers owns seven career school records, but she is also making a name for herself in the A-Sun. She has moved into second place in A-Sun history with 963 strikeouts. Florida Atlantic's Nikki Myers owns the all-time mark with 1,376. With 84 wins, Childers also moved into second place on the conference's all-time wins list. Myers also owns the all-time mark with 108.
Childers Nearly Breaks Single-Season A-Sun Record
Morgan Childers topped the A-Sun with 428 strikeouts in 2010. She also nearly broke the single-season league record, finishing just nine shy of the 437 struck out by Nikki Myers in 2002.
Spartans Set Single-Season Home Run Record
Sparked by the 10 home runs by Lauren Quevedo, Upstate broke its Division I era school record for home runs in 2010, cranking out 27 on the year. The Spartans knocked 24 homers in 2008 and 15 in 2009.
Childers Tops Career Strikeouts Record, Again
Midway through her sophomore season in 2009, Morgan Childers broke the school's all-time strikeouts record. The old record, held by Kasey Heron, stood at 380. Last season, Childers struck out 428 batters on the season, a figure that was 48 more than the old career record.
Now in his 17th year at the helm of the program, head coach Chris Hawkins has topped the 500 career-win mark. He currently has 558 career victories and is not only the winningest coach in the history of the softball program, he has more wins than any other coach who has ever coached at Upstate in any sport.