Upstate Hosts Third-Straight Home A-Sun Doubleheader Saturday Against ETSU
Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate softball team, ranked 10th in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 poll, returns to action Saturday afternoon at 4:00 when it plays host to A-Sun rival East Tennessee State at Cyrill Stadium. The Spartans will play their third-straight A-Sun doubleheader at home to start the conference season.
Upstate enters the game with a 29-6 overall record after taking a 1-0 shutout, its 19th of the season, at home against Charleston Southern Wednesday afternoon. The Spartans are 2-2 in the A-Sun after splitting its doubleheaders against Mercer and Kennesaw State last weekend. ETSU enters the doubleheader with an 0-4 mark in the conference after being swept at home against Kennesaw State and Mercer.
Fans can follow the action online at upstatespartans.com. Live video of both games of the doubleheader will be available for a fee on ASun.TV, while live statistical updates for free will be available for both games of the doubleheader. Complete game recaps and statistics will be available at the completion of the games.
Upstate is 5-3 all-time against ETSU with all games being played since Upstate joined the A-Sun in 2008. The Spartans are 3-1 against the Buccaneers at Cyrill Stadium and have won four-straight against in the series.
Upstate is looking to secure win No. 30 on the season. Upstate has recorded at least 30 wins in seven of the previous eight seasons and looks to make it eight of the last nine.
Freshman Impact Tops in Nation
To have as many as six freshmen in the starting lineup at one time, which Upstate has had four times this season, is certainly a rarity in college softball. The Spartans are one of five schools in the nation to have started six freshmen. The others are Florida, Minnesota, IUPUI and IPFW. The Spartans have started five freshmen on 28 occasions and four twice.
Upstate Cracks Top 10 in Mid-Major Top 25 Poll
After posting four wins in six games last week, Upstate cracked the top 10 in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 Poll released by midmajorpoll.blogspot.com. The Spartans had been ranked 11th for the last three weeks prior to moving up to No. 10 in this week's poll.
Upstate Remains in Top 100 in Latest RPI Report
Upstate remained in the top 100 in the latest RPI report released by the NCAA. The Spartans are ranked 84th in the nation, the second-highest South Carolina school behind South Carolina at No. 69. Upstate is the fourth-highest A-Sun school in the listing behind Lipscomb (58th), North Florida (72nd) and Jacksonville (75th). The average RPI of the A-Sun schools is 128.8. The average RPI of the Spartans' non-conference opponents is 178.8, a full 50 points behind the power of the A-Sun.
Spartans Tops in the A-Sun
As the third month of the season begins, 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 .335 batting average, 1.49 ERA and .977 fielding percentage. Individually, Shellie Robinson leads the conference with 12 home runs, 37 runs, .875 slugging percentage and 91 total bases. Hannah Alexander leads the league with 18 wins and a .193 opponent batting average. The Spartans rank in the top five 27 times in the different main statistical categories.
Upstate Among Nation's Statistical Leaders
When the NCAA released its statistical report last Monday, Upstate was among the nation's leaders in several statistical categories. The Spartans ranked fifth in the nation with a .341 batting average. They were 12th with 1.88 stolen bases per game and 14th with a 1.54 ERA, .976 fielding percentage and .824 winning percentage. Individually, Shellie Robinson ranked 11th with a .892 slugging percentage, 14th with 12 home runs, 18th with 1.09 runs per game and 30th with a .431 batting average. Hannah Alexander ranked seventh with 17 wins, eighth with seven shutouts and 23rd with a 1.20 ERA.
Through 35 games this season, Upstate's pitchers have recorded 19 shutouts. In fact, Upstate registered 13 shutouts in the first 14 games of the season. Hannah Alexander tops the team with eight solo shutouts, while Lacey Dinney has four. The Spartans have combined for seven shutouts on the 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. They were 25-7 (.781) at home in 2011. Upstate is 188-50 (.790) all-time at home since 2002.
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 35 games of this season and has surpassed her total form a year ago, standing at 147 in 130.0 innings.
Spartans Playing Longball
Behind the power stick of Shellie Robinson, Upstate has seen a power surge this season. The Spartans have connected for 22 home runs in 35 games this season. Last year, Upstate totaled 35 home runs in 55 games. Robinson tops the Spartans with 12 home runs on the year, while Ashley Butler has four and Ericka Harris 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 35 games, Upstate has stolen 65 bases, surpassing the season total from last year. Upstate's Division I era record is 95 in 2008.