Spartanburg, S.C. – Freshman Jessica Ujvari had a strong day at the plate to lead the USC Upstate softball team to a doubleheader sweep of Gardner-Webb Wednesday afternoon at Cyrill Stadium. The Spartans won by scores of 8-0 and 5-2.
Ujvari (Niceville, Fla.) finished the doubleheader with five hits and five RBIs to lead the Upstate offensive attack.
Upstate improved to 8-0 on the year with the wins. The Spartans will host the Coke Zero Spartan Classic Friday-Sunday at Cyrill Stadium, opening the tournament Friday against Howard at 4:00 p.m. on Friday before facing 20th-ranked Kentucky Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Gardner-Webb fell to 0-4 with the losses.
"I thought we played very good defense today," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "Don't get me wrong, we are playing well and are 8-0. But, we need to work on bunting and get sharper on our execution of plays. Our pitchers need to hit their spots better. All of those things we can work on and fix and get better as we get ready for the weekend."
Upstate cashed in early and often in the first inning of game one, sending all nine batters to the plate. With two outs, Maddison Kieffer (Middleburg, Fla.) started things off with a two run double off the wall in center. Ujvari followed with a two-run homer. Dana Landers (Simpsonville, S.C.) then connected on a solo home run for back-to-back dingers in the inning to give the Spartans a 5-0 lead.
Gardner-Webb attempted to get back in the game in the top of the second. The Bulldogs put runners on second and third with one out after a sacrifice, but Upstate starter Hannah Alexander (Lexington, N.C.) got out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
Upstate threatened to put the game out of reach in the second. The Spartans loaded the bases with two outs, but Gardner-Webb starter Ashley Rhyne got out of the inning with a strikeout.
Gardner-Webb again tried to get back in the game in the fourth, but Alexander again battled to get out of the jam. The Bulldogs put runners on the corners with one out. However, Alexander got a fly out and a ground out to end the threat.
Upstate loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning and plated a run on a sacrifice fly to center from Kieffer, giving the Spartans a 6-0 lead. Ujvari made it an 8-0 lead with a double on a hard-hit ball that glanced off the shortstop's leg and went into left field. Two runs scored on the play.
Alexander retired the side in the top of the fifth to end the game by the run-rule. She improved to 4-0 on the year with the win, striking out four along the way. Rhyne took the loss for Gardner-Webb, falling to 0-2 on the year.
Ujvari was the standout at the plate for Upstate in the first game. She drove in four runs on two hits, including a home run.
Game two started slowly with neither team cracking the scoreboard in the first two innings. Upstate threatened to score in the second, putting runners on second and third following a Ujvari double. However, Gardner-Webb starter Alyssa Gutierrez got out of the jam with a strikeout and a pop out.
Upstate threatened in the third inning as well, again putting runners on second and third with one out. This time, the Spartans delivered when Shellie Robinson (DeLand, Fla.) singled to score a run. Upstate added another run on a bases loaded sacrifice fly from Kieffer to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead. Ujvari made it a 3-0 game with an RBI single, giving her five RBIs in the doubleheader.
Upstate starter Jamie Ujvari (Niceville, Fla.) ran into trouble in the fourth. Gardner-Webb put runners on second and third with no outs. The Bulldogs loaded the bases on a walk with no outs. After a force out at home on a grounder, Gardner-Webb cracked the scoreboard when Savannah Burns reached on a fielder's choice to drive in a run and cut the Upstate lead to 3-1. Ujvari then struck out the next batter for the third out of the inning, getting out of the bases loaded, no-out jam with just one run crossing the plate.
Ericka Harris (Piedmont, S.C.) made a standout defensive play in the top of the fifth. With Gardner-Webb threatening and a runner on third with one out, Upstate reliever Anna Miller (Portland, Ore.) let a pitch get away from her. However, Harris jumped out of her crouch to get the ball at the backstop and fired it to Miller to get the Bulldog runner at the plate.
Upstate increased its lead back to three runs, 4-1, on Cheyenne Griffin's (Moore, S.C.) sacrifice fly to left in the bottom of the fifth. Gardner-Webb, though, would not go away and Samantha Meeneghan cut the Spartan lead to two, 4-2, with a solo home run in the top of the sixth. Upstate got a run back in the sixth inning to increase its advantage back to three, 5-2.
Miller was solid in the second half of her three-inning relief appearance and retired the side in order in the seventh as Upstate took the win. Miller earned the save with three strikeouts in three innings. Jamie Ujvari got the win, going four innings and striking out six to improve to 2-0.
Jessica Ujvari was again the star at the plate for Upstate. She went 3-for-3 with an RBI. She finished the day 5-for-6 with five RBIs and a run. Harris also had three hits for the Spartans and finished the doubleheader with four hits.