Jacksonville, Fla. – Hannah Alexander turned in an amazing performance in the circle in game one and the Spartans scored an improbable come-from-behind victory in game two to sweep North Florida in a key A-Sun softball doubleheader Saturday afternoon.
Alexander gutted out a 6-1 victory in 10 innings in game one and Upstate rallied from a 5-0 deficit in the seventh inning to score a 7-5 victory in eight innings in game two. Alexander (Lexington, N.C.) tossed the final two innings to earn the win. Cheyenne Griffin (Moore, S.C.) got the game-winning hit, a double that scored two runs, in the eighth inning.
"Today made me gain faith in our team. No matter what happened, we were able to still pull through. I was glad that we started hitting better. We are going to fine-tune everything for next weekend's games against Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson. Hannah was amazing," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins.
Upstate improved to 34-8 overall and 7-3 in the A-Sun with the wins. The Spartans host Florida Gulf Coast Saturday at 4:00 p.m. in an A-Sun doubleheader. UNF fell to 26-21 overall and 7-7 in the league.
Alexander was simply amazing in the circle. The one run she gave up was unearned because of two errors. She improved to 22-3 on the year with the win in game one, a complete-game 10-inning grueling effort. Alexander struck out nine, walked one and scattered eight Osprey hits over the 10 innings of work. She then worked two innings in the second game to earn the win and move her record to 23-3.
Upstate put runners on first and second with two outs in the first inning, but left them on base to start the first game. The Spartans threatened again in the fourth inning when Janna Lewis (Huntersville, N.C.) tripled with two outs, but North Florida starter Kaylie Wallace got a ground out to end the inning.
UNF put runners in scoring position in the third and fifth innings, but Alexander shutdown the threats each time.
UNF broke through after a pair of errors by the Upstate defense in the sixth inning. Jackie Reese reached when her pop up was dropped and stole second with no outs. She scored when Lauren Pollock's grounder was not handled properly as the Ospreys opened a 1-0 lead.
Upstate avoided another run when pinch runner Megan David was sacrificed to second. A batter later, Shellie Robinson (DeLand, Fla.) threw her out attempting to score from second on Danica Mandarano's single up the middle.
Upstate fought back in the top of the seventh. Lindsay Kelly (Jacksonville, Fla.) hit a double to left center with one out and moved to third on a passed ball. Ashley Butler (Laurens, S.C.) drove her in with a single to shallow center to tie the game at 1-1.
UNF put something together in the bottom of the seventh when Chie Someya reached on a single up the middle to lead off the inning and advanced to second on Marissa Thomas' ground out. Alexander, though, got a strikeout and a pop up to end the threat and the game went to extra innings.
Upstate put runners on first and second with two outs in the eighth and Hayley Reinfeld (Parkland, Fla.) stole second to put runners on the corners. But, UNF got out of the inning when Upstate was called for leaving a base early to end the threat with Griffin at the plate.
Upstate tried to push a run across in the ninth when Griffin led off the inning with a double, but Upstate could only move pinch runner Dana Landers (Simpsonville, S.C.) up one base before UNF got out of the inning. UNF Put runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth, but Alexander got a ground out to end the threat. The game headed to the 10th inning with the international tiebreaker rules put into effect.
Upstate broke open the game in the 10th inning, scoring five runs. Maddison Kieffer (Middleburg, Fla.) started things off by moving pinch runner Erin Schattle (Goose Creek, S.C.) over to third. Kendall Settlemyre (Hickory, N.C.) reached on a fielder's choice to put runners at the corners with one out. Reinfeld lined out to short to give the Spartans two outs. That's when the fun began.
Ericka Harris (Piedmont, S.C.) followed with a single to right to drive in the go-ahead run. Robinson smacked a double to right center that drove in two runs, and Griffin and Lewis each followed with RBI singles as Upstate opened a 6-1 lead.
North Florida singled to lead off the bottom of inning to put runners at the corners with no outs. Alexander then got two fly outs to get within an out of getting the win for the Spartans. She then got Kelly Dill to end the game with a pop up as the Spartans won the game.
Griffin led Upstate at the plate with three hits, an RBI and run. Robinson collected a pair of hits with two RBIs and a run. Lewis also had two hits for the Spartans.
Upstate did not start the second game sharp on defense, committing two errors that led to two UNF runs as the Ospreys opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Upstate battled back in the top of the second inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning. However, UNF starter Kayla Goff got a strikeout, force out and ground out to get out of the inning.
UNF added to its lead in the third inning on Brittany Hendrix's RBI single, giving the Ospreys a 3-0 lead. The Ospreys made it a 4-0 game on Someya's RBI-single to drive in Hendrix in the frame. UNF took the score to 5-0 in the third inning on Thomas' solo home run.
Upstate, though, wouldn't quit and staged a seventh-inning rally. The Spartans put runners on first and third with one out and Harris slapped a double to score Settlemyre to cut the UNF lead to 5-1. Robinson followed with a single to drive in Reinfeld and cut the lead to 5-2. Griffin then knocked a single through the left side to drive in pinch runner Lindsey Greeson (Stanley, N.C.) from third as Upstate got within 5-3.
UNF reliever and game one starter Kaylie Wallace struck the next batter out for the second out of the inning with Spartan runners on first and second. Upstate tied the game when Kelly doubled to right center to score both Upstate runners. After a Kieffer single put runners on first and third, Goff re-entered in the circle for UNF and got out of the inning with a ground out.
Alexander, Upstate's game one warrior, entered the game to start the bottom of the seventh inning. She went 3-up and 3-down to send the game into extra innings.
Upstate's rally continued in the eighth inning when the Spartans hit back-to-back singles with one out to put runners on first and second. UNF changed pitchers following Harris' single, brining in Ashley Brown to face Robinson.
Robinson singled through the left side, but pinch runner Kara Lohr (Lexington, N.C.) was thrown out at the plate. However, the Spartans put runners on second and third with two outs when Griffin delivered a two-run double to put the Spartans ahead, 7-5.
Alexander walked the leadoff batter in the eighth. She got a fly out to center for the first out of the inning. She retired the next two batters by way of the strikeout to end the game and complete the Upstate comeback for the 7-5 win.
Griffin led the Spartans at the plate again in game two. She finished with three hits, including the game-winner, with three RBIs. Reinfeld also picked up three hits, while Harris, Settlemyre and Robinson each had two. Upstate pounded out 15 hits in the game.