Upstate Tops All S.C. Schools in RPI, Finishes Season Among Nation’s Statistical Leaders
Spartanburg, S.C. – After posting 39 wins and topping the 30-win plateau for the eighth time in the last nine seasons, the USC Upstate softball team finished the 2012 season as the top-ranked South Carolina school in the NCAA RPI, while the Spartans were ranked among the nation's statistical leaders in the final report issued by the NCAA.
Upstate finished the season ranked No. 82 in the final RPI report issued by the NCAA. The Spartans topped all nine Division I schools from the Palmetto State, including South Carolina, which plays in the tough Southeastern Conference, arguably the toughest college softball conference in the country and home of the 2012 National Champions, Alabama Crimson Tide. It marks the third-best RPI ranking since Upstate moved to Division I in 2008. The 2010 squad finished No. 72 and was followed by the 2008 team at No. 76. The Spartans have never finished out of the top 100 in its five seasons in Division I.
Coastal Carolina finished the year in second behind Upstate at No. 91 and was followed by South Carolina (No. 99), College of Charleston (No. 112), Charleston Southern (No. 118), Winthrop (No. 202), Furman (No. 205), Presbyterian (No. 247) and South Carolina State (No. 281).
Upstate played eight opponents, and 14 games, against teams in the top 100. The Spartans played NCAA Tournament teams Boston U., Florida Gulf Coast, Georgia and Syracuse. The Spartans claimed a 3-1 victory over then-No. 23 Syracuse in the USF Under Armour Showcase in Clearwater, Fla., in March. In all, the Spartans were 2-3 against the NCAA Tournament teams on the schedule, picking up a conference doubleheader split against FGCU and losing close games to Boston U. and then-No. 11 Georgia.
After finishing third in the A-Sun regular season standings and earning the No. 3 seed in the A-Sun Tournament hosted by the Spartans at Cyrill Stadium, Upstate finished the season as the fifth-highest rated team in the A-Sun in the RPI ranking. Lipscomb was the top-ranked league school, coming in at No. 69 and was followed by Florida Gulf Coast (No. 74), Kennesaw State (No. 75), Jacksonville (No. 81), Upstate (No. 82), North Florida (No. 88), Stetson (No. 127), Mercer (No. 137), Belmont (No. 216) and East Tennessee State (No. 225).
In addition to the RPI rankings, Upstate found itself ranked among the NCAA statistical leaders in several team and individual categories. As a team, the Spartans posted the seventh-best batting average of all 289 Division I schools, finishing the year with a .325 batting average. Upstate was 10th with a .976 fielding percentage, 12th with 1.48 doubles per game and 14th with a .750 winning percentage. In all, the Spartans were ranked in the top 30 in eight team statistical categories.
Individually, Shellie Robinson (DeLand, Fla.) turned in a tremendous freshman season and led the Spartans statistically among the nation's leaders. The 2012 A-Sun Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Conference selection finished the year ranked 19th in the nation with 0.33 home runs per game and 20th with a .816 slugging percentage. Her 17 home runs, which stand as the Division I era single-season school record, ranked 26th in the nation, while she ranked 31st with 0.94 runs per game. Her .405 batting average was 41st in the country.
Sophomore hurler and Second Team All-ASun selection Hannah Alexander (Lexington, N.C.) finished the season ranked 27th with 26 wins. She also broke the top 30, ranking No. 29 with nine shutouts. She was 50th with a 1.76 ERA. Freshman Hayley Reinfeld (Parkland, Fla.), who was an A-Sun All-Freshman selection, finished the season ranked 23rd with four triples, while freshman Cheyenne Griffin (Moore, S.C.), who was a unanimous A-Sun First Team All-Conference pick, was ranked 84th with a .384 batting average.
"I am proud of what we accomplished this past season," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "We had a very young team, at times playing with as many as seven freshmen in the starting lineup at one time. Although we didn't finish the season the way we would have liked, this team accomplished a lot and really grew up. With so many young players on the team who stepped up their games and contributed greatly to our success, I look forward to what the future has in store for us."