Upstate Splits Pair Of 2-1 Games With Kennesaw State
March 21, 2008
Spartanburg, S.C. - In what was an entertaining and thrilling Atlantic Sun Conference softball doubleheader between USC Upstate and Kennesaw State Friday evening at Cyrill Stadium, Upstate claimed a 2-1 victory over the Owls in game one, only to see Kennesaw respond with a 2-1 victory in game two.
Upstate stands 16-7 overall and 2-2 in the A-Sun. Kennesaw State, which was playing its first A-Sun games of the season, is 22-8 overall and 1-1 in the league.
"I thought we played well overall," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "In the first game we were relaxed and we were confident. We did the little things we needed to do to win. In the second game, we played with them play-for-play until we had another little whoops. We are a young team and as a young team we are still trying to fight through that kind of adversity. I feel we are improving and that we are on track to be a solid team by the end of the year."
Game one featured a marquee pitching matchup as two of the A-Sun's top pitchers faced off against each other. Upstate's sensational freshman Morgan Childers and Kennesaw State's Brittany Matthews, who was the A-Sun Pitcher of the Year as a junior last year, battled each other for seven innings. Childers came out on top after Upstate scored two runs in the third inning.
Childers ran into early trouble, pitching out of jams in the first and second innings. In the first, Kennesaw State put runners on first and second with one out and loaded the bases with two outs before Childers struck out the third out, her third strikeout of the inning, to end the Kennesaw State threat. In the second, Kennesaw State again put runners on first and second, but this time with no outs. Childers recorded two straight outs before back-to-back Owl singles gave Kennesaw a 1-0 lead. Jessica Cross' single up the middle drove in Jenna Closner with the go ahead run. Chidlers, though, induced an inning-ending strikeout to limit the damage in the inning.
Upstate responded with two runs in the third inning. Heidi Gibbs singled to drive in Kim Brasil to tie the game at 1-1 and Shay Slater scored from third when the ball was thrown away by the Owl catcher attempting to throw out Gibbs on her steal attempt.
The 2-1 lead would be all that Childers would need. She settled down and gave up just three hits after the second inning and Kennesaw State never threatened after the second. Childers scattered eight hits and allowed one earned run to take the win. She struck out 15 batters and struck out the side three times. Matthews was also strong in the circle. She scattered four hits and struck out five. Although she gave up two runs, both were unearned as the senior took the loss.
Game two also featured a tense, low scoring ballgame. In the end, an unearned run made the difference as Kennesaw State took the 2-1 win. Upstate starter Brittany Rice and Kennesaw starter Jessica Cross put on a show. Rice tossed five innings and was charged with one unearned run. Cross went 4 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit. The starters gave way to Upstate's Childers and Kennesaw's Matthews to finish the game.
Kennesaw broke on top with a run in the sixth inning. Amanda Malcom led off the inning with a single. Childers came in to relieve Rice and got a strikeout and a ground out as Malcom moved to third with two outs. Childers got Kelsey Kulk to hit a grounder, but the ball skirted through on an error by the Upstate third baseman and Malcom scored to give the Owls a 1-0 lead.
Upstate responded in the bottom of the inning when Slater scored from second on Lauren Quevedo's single up the middle. Kennesaw, though, countered when Closner led off the seventh with a solo home run to give the Owls a 2-1 lead and, eventually, the win.
Matthews tossed 2 2/3 innings of relief to pick up the win. She struck out three and improved to 14-3 on the year. Childers tossed two innings of work with two strikeouts and fell to 13-3 on the season. Neither starting pitcher factored in the decision.
Malcom led Kennesaw State at the plate, finishing the day with four hits. Heidi Gibbs was the only Spartan to record more than one hit in a game, finishing with two in game one.