Spartanburg, S.C. – Tuesday was a good day to be a Spartan as the nationally-ranked USC Upstate softball team took home four of the five individual postseason awards from the A-Sun and six Spartans were named all-conference. Shellie Robinson was named A-Sun Player of the Year, Anna Miller was named A-Sun Pitcher of the Year, Lexi Shubert was named A-Sun Freshman of the Year and head coach Chris Hawkins earned A-Sun Coach of the Year honors.
Cheyenne Griffin and Kendall Settlemyre joined Miller, Robinson and Shubert as first team all-conference selections, while Dana Landers was a second team all-league pick. Robinson was the only unanimous selection to either of the first or second all-conference teams. The six all-conference honors are the most in program history in one season, topping last year's five all-conference picks. In addition, Shubert and Ryan Rector were named to the A-Sun All-Freshman team.
"I am ecstatic to see so many of our players earn the awards they did," said Hawkins, now in his 20th season as a head coach, spending his entire career at Upstate. "For us to have taken the next step to reach the level of success we have this year called for all of our players to step up and perform at a high level. The amount of individual award winners and all-conference selections we received today proves that is the case. I am thrilled for all of the players, especially people like Kendall and Dana who received their first all-conference award after giving so much to this program the last three years."
"I am humbled to be named coach of the year. I wouldn't have earned this award, none of players would have earned their awards, if it weren't for a total team effort. My assistant coaches put in a tremendous amount of work to make this team better. They are very good at what they do. None of our success would have been possible without them and their tremendous loyalty, and I share this honor with them. The coaches and players have worked together to make this a special season and I look forward to what else is in store for us."
Hawkins earned coach of the year honors after leading Upstate to a 44-5 overall record and a 22-2 mark in the A-Sun during the regular season. The Spartans set the program record for wins during the school's Division I era and A-Sun wins as well. Hawkins' Spartans have been ranked in the two major national Top 25 polls six times this year and have been ranked in the Top 30 in every NCAA RPI released this season. In addition, Upstate has been ranked among the national leaders in several team and individual statistical categories. He also reached the 700 career-win milestone earlier in the season. This is his first coach of the year selection as voted on by the conference coaches in his 20-year career.
Robinson is the first Upstate softball player to earn player of the year honors from the A-Sun. She did so by turning in one of the top individual seasons in the history of the program as the Spartans' centerfielder. She ended the regular season ranked second in the A-Sun with a .430 batting average and led the conference with a .449 batting average against A-Sun foes. She currently leads the conference overall in slugging percentage, on-base percentage and doubles, while ranking second in hits, home runs and runs and fourth in RBIs. In league games only, she led the league in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, home runs and doubles. She was second in hits and runs and fifth in RBIs.
Robinson has also been ranked among the nation's leaders as well. She is currently ninth in slugging percentage, 10th in home runs and ranks among the leaders in several other categories. She has earned three consecutive first team all-conference selections and now has two major individual honors while earning freshman of the year honors in 2012.
Miller was Upstate's big-game pitcher last season and developed into a go-to pitcher throughout 2014. She tossed four no-hitters during the season and increased her total to six in her two-year Upstate career, both program records. While she tops the A-Sun in strikeouts and opponent batting average overall, she has shined during A-Sun games. Two of her no-hitters have come against league foes (Northern Kentucky and ETSU) and she topped the conference in A-Sun only games for strikeouts, ERA and opponent batting average. She currently ranks third overall in ERA and fifth in wins, while ranking tied for second with Shubert in wins during A-Sun play. She also tied the single-game school record for strikeouts, fanning 18 in Saturday's 2-0 win at ETSU. Her only losses on the year were to nationally-ranked Georgia as well as N.C. State and Stetson.
Miller currently ranks second in the nation with 12.0 strikeouts per game, standing just .069 behind national leader Aimee Creder from Tulsa. She earned NFCA National Player of the Week honors in February after tossing no-hitters in back-to-back starts. A standout in the classroom as well, she was named the A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year for softball Monday and is a Capital One Academic All-District selection. This is her first all-conference selection at Upstate. However, she was named the California JUCO Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore in 2012 and was a two-time all-state and all-conference selection at the College of Siskiyous. Miller is the second Upstate pitcher to earn pitcher of the Year honors. All-time great Morgan Childers earned the honor in 2008.
Shubert is the third Spartan pitcher to earn freshman of the year honors and the fourth overall. She ended the regular season with an 18-1 record, losing only to A-Sun rival Stetson. She earned key non-conference victories over Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia and Ball State. She currently ranks second in the A-Sun in ERA and opponent batting average, third in wins and fourth in strikeouts. Against A-Sun competition, she finished the season second in ERA and wins, third in opponent batting average and fourth in strikeouts. She is the only freshman to earn first team all-conference honors and is one of two on either the first or second team.
Griffin joins Robinson as a three-time all-conference selection. She was a first team honoree in 2012 and was a second team pick last year. She returned to the first team this season after hitting .338 for the year and increasing that figure to .373 against A-Sun competition. As solid as she is offensively, she has been even better defensively at first base. She has committed just one error this season and owns a .997 fielding percentage. She reached 100 career hits during the season and is three RBIs away from 100 as well.
Settlemyre has turned in a breakout season this year en route to her first all-conference selection. Always a solid defensive player at third base, she picked it up and then some at the plate. She currently ranks second on the team and fifth in the A-Sun with a .377 batting average. She has belted 11 home runs on the season, more than doubling the total hit during her first two seasons in the program. She ranks in the Top 10 in the A-Sun in slugging percentage, hits and home runs. She became the first Spartan to hit three home runs in a game during the school's Division I era when she belted three against FGCU in March. She ended the regular season hitting .351 against A-Sun foes, ranking in the Top 10 in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage.
Landers had a solid season as a sophomore and has kept it rolling as a junior en route to her first all-conference selection. She has made several standout defensive plays at second base. Offensively, she ranks third on the team with a .359 batting average, increasing that figure to a strong .373 in A-Sun play. She currently ranks in the Top 10 in the A-Sun in batting average, hits and runs. Against A-Sun foes, she also ranks in the Top 10 in batting average, hits and runs. She has committed just three errors on the year defensively.
Rector has been a key figure on the team as a freshman en route to earning all-freshman honors from the A-Sun. She has been one of three players who have platooned in right field and has spent time as both the designated player and a pinch runner. She ended the regular season hitting .267 against A-Sun competition. She is second on the team with four stolen bases and owns a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.