Nashville, Tenn. – Just when the USC Upstate softball team needed to change its luck against Lipscomb, the Spartans got a strong pitching performance out of Anna Miller and an early offensive outburst to take a 4-1 victory over Lipscomb in the first game of the day on Championship Saturday at the A-Sun Tournament. The win forced the "if necessary" deciding game for the conference championship.
Miller was outstanding on the day, going the distance in earning her fifth win of the season and improving to 5-1. It was her first win since tossing six innings of work in relief to earn the victory at Georgia on April 17. She allowed one run on five hits with six strikeouts.
Upstate improved to 40-10 with the win, the third time in the last four seasons the Spartans have reached the 40-win plateau. Lipscomb fell to 34-24 with the loss.
After Miller (Portland, Ore.) tossed a solid top of the first for Upstate, the Spartan bats exploded for a pair of home runs in the bottom of the inning to open a 3-0 lead. Shellie Robinson (DeLand, Fla.) started things off with a two-run home run, her 12th of the season, to get the Spartans on the scoreboard. Cheyenne Griffin (Moore, S.C.), who belted a pair of home runs on her 20th birthday Friday, followed with a solo home run to give Upstate back-to-back dingers and a 3-0 lead. It was Griffin's seventh homer of the season.
Upstate padded its lead in the bottom of the second inning. With Kendall Settlemyre (Hickory, N.C.) on second with two outs, leadoff hitter Meredith Barnes (Salem, Ore.) poked a single into right center to score Settlemyre from second for a 4-0 Spartan advantage.
Lipscomb looked to get back in the game in the third inning. Heather Montgomery reached on an infield single and advanced to second base on a stolen base with two outs. A walk to Bridget Begle put runners on first and second. However, Miller got Paige Neely to fly out to left to end the inning and keep the Spartans on top, 4-0.
After four fruitless innings, Lipscomb cracked the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning. Bree Thurman singled with one out and stole second with two outs. Brittany Elmore followed with an RBI single up the middle to score Thurman and cut the Upstate lead to 4-1. However, Miller stood strong and got the final out of the inning to maintain a three-run Upstate lead.
Lipscomb mounted a small threat in the top of the sixth. After Mickey Bell was hit by a pitch with two outs, she moved to second on a wild pitch. However, Miller struck out Kristen Sturdivant to end the inning and keep Upstate ahead, 4-1.