Nashville, Tenn. – After tossing four innings in the first game of the day against Lipscomb, USC Upstate pitcher Jamie Ujvari took the circle in the final elimination game of the day against North Florida in the A-Sun Tournament. With an appearance in Saturday's championship against Lipscomb on the line, the A-Sun Freshman of the Year took a perfect game into the seventh inning to lead the Spartans to a 9-2 victory over the Ospreys, securing the Spartans' spot in the A-Sun Tournament Championship.
With the win, Upstate improved to 39-10 on the year and advanced to Championship Saturday in the A-Sun Tournament to face Lipscomb at 12 noon at Draper Diamond. It is the first championship appearance for the Spartans since 2010 when Upstate dropped the title game to Lipscomb in DeLand, Fla. The Spartans dropped a 4-2 decision to the Lady Bisons earlier Friday and will look for revenge. For Upstate to win the A-Sun Tournament and secure the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament the Spartans will have to beat Lipscomb twice Saturday. North Florida fell to 42-15 on the year.
"I am really proud that the team dealt with a tough loss earlier in the day and the rain delay before the start of the UNF game to come out and play the way we did," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "Everyone contributed, we got a great effort out of Ujvari, and played great defense. I am really proud of how we dealt with diversity to come through with a big win and advance to the championship."
Ujvari was simply outstanding. She retired 19 straight batters, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning and one out before North Florida's Kelly Wilson hit a solo home run to left to break up Ujvari's perfect bid. Ashley Holton also hit a solo homer in the inning to account for both hits. Ujvari earned the win to improve to 19-3. She struck out 11 en route to the victory.
The start of the game was delayed due to rain for nearly three hours and started just a little after 8:00 p.m. Once it started, Upstate jumped on top early in the first game. After Ericka Harris (Piedmont, S.C.) reached base and moved to second with two outs, Griffin (Moore, S.C.), who was celebrating her 20th birthday, singled through the right side to drive in Harris for the game's first run.
Ujvari (Niceville, Fla.) got the start and tossed a strong bottom of the first inning, striking out the final two outs and providing the faithful at the stadium a glimpse of what the game would look like. Upstate added to its lead in the top of the second and chased North Florida Starter Kaylie Wallace, who entered the game having thrown 299 pitches in three previous games of the tournament, from the game.
Maddison Kieffer (Middleburg, Fla.) started things off with a double. Lindsay Kelly (Jacksonville, Fla.) reached after being hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Anna Miller (Portland, Ore.) belted a double to plate Kieffer and put runners on second and third. After Wallace was lifted for Kayla Goff, the Spartans plated two more runs on Meredith Barnes' (Salem, Ore.) RBI single and opened a 4-0 lead.
Griffin continued her birthday celebration in the top of the third, belting a solo home run to give Upstate a 5-0 lead. The homer was the 49th of the season for the Spartans, breaking the all-time single season school record of 48 hit by the 1999 squad.
Upstate added to its lead in the fourth inning when Barnes collected her third and fourth RBIs of the game on her two-run home run to center, giving the Spartans a 7-0 lead. The Barnes homer was the 50th of the season for the Spartans and also chased Goff from the game in favor of Wallace returning to the circle for North Florida. Barnes overtook Shellie Robinson (DeLand, Fla.) for the team lead with 12 home runs on the year with the dinger.
Upstate put an exclamation mark on the win with runs in the seventh inning. Dana Landers (Simpsonville, S.C.) hit her sixth home run of the season, a two-run shot to right center, to give the Spartans a 9-0 lead.
North Florida broke up Ujvari's perfect game with the two homers in the seventh, but the game was already decided. Wallace fell to 24-7 on the year with the loss.
Griffin led the way with three hits, two RBIs and a run for Upstate. Barnes collected four RBIs on two hits, while Landers, Kieffer and Reinfeld also had two hits.