Upstate Softball Ranked No. 29 in Final NCAA RPI
Spartanburg, S.C. – After concluding the 2014 season with a 46-9 overall record and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, the USC Upstate softball team finished the season ranked No. 29 in the NCAA RPI updated following the completion of the Women's College World Series.
In additiont to the Top 30 ranking in the final NCAA RPI, Upstate also finished the season just one spot out of the Top 25 in both final national Top 25 polls. After being ranked in both the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 polls for seven weeks of the season, including the final six heading into the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans fell short of a final Top 25 ranking in both polls by narrow margins. Upstate earned 33 votes in the NFCA poll, just seven votes shy of a spot in the Top 25, while the Spartans earned 29 votes in the USA Softball poll to finish two votes show of the Top 25.
Upstate finished the season with the exact same RPI it garnered heading into the NCAA Tournament at No. 29. The Spartans peaked at No. 21 earlier in the season and maintained a Top 30 ranking in every RPI released by the NCAA this year. The No. 29 ranking is the highest final ranking ever achieve by the program in seven seasons playing on the Division I level, topping the No. 43 ranking a year ago. The program has been ranked in the Top 100 in all seven seasons playing in the DI ranks.
Upstate played two of the top four-ranked teams in the NCAA RPI during the 2014 season, dropping a 3-1 decision at No. 4 Georgia and losing to No. 2 Alabama, the national No. 2 seed and national runner-up, in the NCAA Tournament. In all, Upstate played three teams in the Top 20 (South Alabama, No. 20), eight teams in the Top 50 and 13 in the Top 100.
Upstate finished the season as the top-ranked team in the A-Sun. Lipscomb trailed Upstate at No. 33 and was followed in the league by Stetson (No. 35), Mercer (No. 42), North Florida (No. 86), Florida Gulf Coast (No. 90), Jacksonville (No. 101), Kennesaw State (No. 116), ETSU (No. 202) and Northern Kentucky (No. 261). The Spartans were also the top-ranked team in the Palmetto State, finishing five spots ahead of South Carolina at No. 34. College of Charleston was next at No. 50 and was followed in the state by Coastal Carolina (No. 55), Furman (No. 93), Winthrop (No. 108), Charleston Southern (No. 144), Presbyterian (No. 174) and S.C. State (No. 283).
Upstate, under the direction of 20-year head coach Chris Hawkins, turned in a monumental season in 2014. The Spartans broke the school's Division I era record for wins, just one shy of the all-time mark of 47 set by the 2007 squad in the program's final year playing in Division II. Upstate turned in a 22-2 record in the A-Sun to win the league's regular season championship by five games, giving the Spartans three conference titles in seven years. Upstate became the first A-Sun team in the history of the conference to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Softball Tournament and was ranked in the two major Top 25 polls for seven weeks during the season, including the final six leading into the NCAA Tournament.
Individually, Upstate took home a number of impressive awards and honors. Hawkins was named the A-Sun Coach of the Year, the first in his 20-year career. Anna Miller was named the A-Sun Pitcher of the Year, the A-Sun's NCAA Woman of the Year, second team NFCA all-region, first team all-conference, A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year for softball and became just the second Spartan ever to earn Capital One First Team Academic All-America honors. Outfielder Shellie Robinson was named a NFCA Third Team All-American, first team NFCA all-region, A-Sun Player of the Year and first team all-conference. Lexi Shubert was named the A-Sun Freshman of the Year and was a first team all-conference selection. Cheyenne Griffin and Kendall Settlemyre joined the three as first team all-league picks, while Dana Landers was a second team all-conference honoree. Ryan Rector joined Lexi Shubert on the all-freshman team in the A-Sun.
Upstate Softball's RPI Rankings – Division I
2008 – No. 76
2009 – No. 88
2010 – No. 63
2011 – No. 95
2012 – No. 82
2013 – No. 43
2014 – No. 29