Spartanburg, S.C. – The theme of the A-Sun opening softball doubleheader between USC Upstate and North Florida was pitching, and both teams did not disappoint Saturday afternoon at Cyrill Stadium. Upstate hurler Jamie Ujvari tossed a three-hit gem in the second game to lead the Spartans to a 5-0 victory, while Osprey Kaylie Wallace was equal to the task in the first game with a 1-0 shutout.
Upstate stands 15-2 overall and 1-1 in the A-Sun after the day's action as Upstate honored the nation's military with Military Appreciation Day. UNF is 20-6 overall and 1-1 in the league. The teams will return to Cyrill Stadium Sunday afternoon at 1:00 for the third and deciding game of the series.
"I thought we fought through adversity well after a tough loss in the first game," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "They came right at our weaknesses and we were finally able to adjust in the second game. I am proud of how we kept our composure and I look forward to tomorrow."
UNF took the lead in the top of the first inning when Ashley Holton singled to drive in pinch runner Shay Richardson from second for a 1-0 Osprey lead. It would be the only run to score in the game as Upstate starter Hannah Alexander (Lexington, N.C.) and UNF starter Wallace engaged in a pitcher's duel.
Upstate didn't get a hit until the third inning and didn't advance a runner to second until the fourth. Alexander pitched out of a jam in the top of the third. After giving up a leadoff double, she got out of the jam without the runner moving up.
Upstate threatened in the fifth inning. The Spartans put runners at first and second with one out, but a fielder's choice force out at third and a pop up ended the threat as UNF retained its 1-0 lead. Both UNF and Upstate put two runners on base in the sixth inning, but both teams got out of the inning with no damage as the game went to the seventh with the Ospreys leading, 1-0.
UNF looked to try to extend its lead, putting a runner at third with one out, but Alexander pitched out of the jam to keep Upstate within a run heading to the bottom of the frame.
In the bottom of the inning, Dana Landers (Simpsonville, S.C.) reached first after being hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. However, she was forced out at second on a fielder's choice. The Spartans put runners on first and second with two outs, but couldn't push anything across. UNF second baseman Kelly Wilson made a key play on Lindsay Kelly's (Jacksonville, Fla.) grounder in the hole between first and second. She ranged deep in the hole and came up with the grounder to barely get Kelly out at first for the second out of the inning.
Wallace went the distance for UNF, tossing seven complete innings with three strikeouts and six hits to get the win. She improved to 8-2 on the year. Alexander was solid as well. She pitched a complete game, scattering six hits and striking out seven. She fell to 7-2 with the loss.
If the first game of the day was a pitcher's duel, game two started with the exact same theme. Upstate starter Ujvari (Niceville, Fla.) and UNF starter Kayla Goff each were strong early on. They both allowed just one hit each through the first four innings.
Upstate attempted to get things going in the fifth inning. The Spartans put runners on the corners with two outs. However, Upstate attempted a double steal and the runner on first was thrown out before the run could score as UNF escaped to keep the game tied at 0-0.
Upstate made things happen in the bottom of the sixth. Leadoff hitter Meredith Barnes (Salem, Ore.) smacked a double and moved to third on a passed ball with no outs. One out later, Shellie Robinson came to the plate and drew a walk to put runners on first and third. Maddison Kieffer (Middleburg, Fla.) smacked a grounder to the right side of second base where the second baseman had the ball go through her legs. Barnes scored on the play and the flood gates opened.
Cheyenne Griffin (Moore, S.C.) followed with an RBI single. Upstate basically put the game away when Jessica Ujvari (Niceville, Fla.) singled to left to drive in a pair and give the Spartans a 4-0 lead. Kendall Settlemyre (Hickory, N.C.) ended the scoring with an RBI single as Upstate took a 5-0 lead into the top of the seventh.
Ujvari was outstanding in the circle for Upstate. She went the distance, scattering three hits with a career-high nine strikeouts to earn the win and improve to 5-0 on the year. She only allowed four base runners the entire game. Goff took the loss for UNF, allowing four runs, three earned, on five hits with five strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. She fell to 8-4 on the year.