Upstate Faces Appalachian State in Mid-Week Road Doubleheader
Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate softball team will look to remain undefeated on the season against Southern Conference schools when it travels to Boone, N.C., Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. for a doubleheader against Appalachian State.
Upstate is currently 5-0 this season against SoCon schools, including a 7-2 victory over the Mountaineers on March 4 in the Subway Spartan Classic at Upstate. Upstate will face Appalachian State for the sixth and seventh times in the series on Tuesday. The Spartans are 4-1 all-time against the Mountaineers and suffered their only loss on the road in Boone, a 7-2 loss to split a doubleheader in 2009. The loss was the last for Upstate against a SoCon opponent.
Upstate enters the game with a 22-4 record and off of a lengthy break. The Spartans have not played since sweeping a doubleheader at Western Carolina last Tuesday. Appalachian State enters the game with 12-10 record, having taken 2-of-3 from Furman in a three-game SoCon series this past weekend.
Having played 26 games in the first 32 days of the season, Upstate was able to take a break last week after its doubleheader sweep at Western Carolina. The Spartans pounded out 23 hits en route to scoring 14 runs in two games against the Catamounts, taking victories by the scores of 6-2 in game one and 8-5 in game two.
Fans can follow the action online in a variety of ways. Live video for a fee will be available through Appalachian State's video streaming services. A complete wrap-up of the doubleheader, including game recaps and statistics, as well as links for the video, will be available of upstatespartans.com, the official website of Upstate Athletics.
Freshmen Showing Poise and Leadership
With 12 freshmen on the team and as many as six or seven in the starting lineup in any given game, it should be no surprise that certain freshman would step up and begin to be leaders the team. That certainly has been the case this year for Upstate. Currently, three of the top four hitters on the team are freshman. Cheyenne Griffin leads the team with a .400 batting average. Fellow freshman Shellie Robinson ranks second with a .390 batting average and tops the club with eight home runs, 17 RBIs and 24 runs. Lindsay Kelly, who was an All-Freshman selection in the A-Sun a year ago, is the only non-freshman in the top four hitters, hitting .389 on the year. Hayley Reinfeld ranks fourth on the team with a .367 batting average. Another freshman, Lindsey Greeson, leads the team with 13 stolen bases.
Knocking Off a Nationally-Ranked Team
For the first time in program history, Upstate knocked off a team ranked in a national Top 25 poll when it claimed a 3-1 win over 23rd-ranked Syracuse in the USF Under Armour Showcase in Clearwater, Fla. (March 9). Lacey Dinney went the distance for the Spartans, tossing seven innings and allowing one run on five hits with six strikeouts. Maddison Kieffer led the way at the plate, driving in a pair of runs.
Spartans Garner National Attention in Top 25 Polls, Ranked 14th in Mid-Major Poll
For the third-straight week, Upstate received a measure of respect by the nation's coaches by receiving votes in the NFCA/USA Today. The Spartans received eight votes, the most ever, in the NFCA/USA Today poll. In addition, the Spartans rose three spots to No. 11 in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll released by midmajorpoll.blogspot.com. The new Top 25 polls are scheduled to be released Tuesday.
Spartans Tops in the A-Sun
Through the first month of the season, Upstate continues to remain one of the top teams in the A-Sun in the league's latest statistical leaders report. The Spartans lead all conference squads in the three main team categories, topping the A-Sun with a .338 batting average, 1.07 ERA and .976 fielding percentage. Individually, Hannah Alexander leads the conference with 13 wins and a 0.90 ERA, while Lacey Dinney ranks first with a .181 opponent batting average.
Through 26 games this season, Upstate's pitchers have recorded 15 shutouts. In fact, Upstate registered 13 shutouts in the first 14 games of the season. Hannah Alexander tops the team with five shutouts, while Lacey Dinney has four.
Alexander Upping the Strikeout Totals
Hannah Alexander turned in a solid freshman campaign in 2011 and finished the year with 106 strikeouts in 119.2 innings pitched. She has improved her strikeout totals through the first 26 games of this season and has surpassed her total form a year ago, standing at 112 in 93.2 innings.
Spartans Playing Longball
Behind the power stick of Shellie Robinson, Upstate has seen a power surge this season. The Spartans have connected for 16 home runs in 26 games this season. Last year, Upstate totaled 35 home runs in 55 games. Robinson tops the Spartans with eight home runs on the year, while Ashley Butler and Kendall Settlemyre each have two.
Spartans Terrors on the Base Paths
In the Division II days, head coach Chris Hawkins used speed to put pressure on the opponent's defense while also setting up situations for the hitters to drive in runs. The 2012 team looks like the Spartan teams of old. Through the first 26 games, Upstate has stolen 55 bases, already surpassing the season total from last year. Upstate's Division I era record is 95 in 2008.
Harris Tops All-Time Defensive List
Junior catcher Ericka Harris has started behind the plate since her freshman season. A strong defensive catcher, she ranks first all-time in fielding percentage entering the season. She has committed just four errors in her first two seasons and owns a .995 career fielding percentage, .004 ahead of second place on the all-time list. She is also strong throwing runners out, gunning down 13 of 22 in 2011.
Greeson Becomes a Threat
Despite platooning in the outfield and collecting 28 at-bats for the season, Lindsey Greeson has become an offensive threat due to her speed and ability to get the bat on the ball. She tops the team and ranks third in the A-Sun with 13 stolen bases and has yet to be thrown out. She has also scored 13 runs on the year.