Hard Luck Spartans Drop A-Sun Opener Against Kennesaw State
DeLand, Fla. - Kennesaw State scored an unearned run in the fifth inning as the only run in the game as USC Upstate dropped its first game, 1-0, in its first A-Sun Tournament appearance Thursday morning at Patricia Wilson Field. Upstate will play Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. against the winner of the Lipscomb and Campbell.
Upstate (38-14) made contact on Jessica Cross, Kennesaw State's starter, throughout the game, but just couldn't get any balls to go through the infield and give the Spartans any scoring opportunities. Cross used the drop ball effectively throughout the game and limited Upstate to just two hits. She collected just four strikeouts as the Spartans were able to get their bats on the ball.
Crislyn Chewning singled with one out in the first inning, but was thrown out trying to steal second to end any threat early in the game. The Spartans then went hitless until the seventh inning when Chewning led off the inning with a single.
Morgan Childers was simply solid throughout the game and did not allow Kennesaw State to get anything going at the plate. She scattered three hits in the first four innings, but was a victim of circumstance in the fifth. In the fifth, Hannah Graham walked to lead off the inning and advanced to second on Brittany Moore's sacrifice bunt. Lyndsay Murray laid down a bunt to third, but the throw tailed toward Murray at the base and second baseman Janna Lewis collided with Murray while trying to make a play. The ball bounced back toward home and Graham scored with the eventual game-winning run.
Chewning helped start Upstate's last-ditch effort to get back in the game in the seventh. She slapped a single up the middle to give the Spartans a runner with no outs. With one out, Katie Zauner slapped a ball up the middle, but Graham, Kenensaw State second baseman, made a diving play at the bag to get the ball and tagged second to force Chewning. Cross then got Monica Hall to ground out to end the game as the Owls took the win.
Cross went the distance to earn the win and improve to 15-10 on the year. Childers took the tough loss, giving up just one unearned run and scattering four hits. She struck out seven to increase her season total to a league-leading 412. She fell to 31-7 on the season. Chewning had both of Upstate's hits in the game.
"It was a tough way to lose the game," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "I thought Morgan did a great job of limiting their hitters. Our hitters did a good job of getting their bats on the ball, but we just couldn't get anything through their infield or string together two or three hits at a time. This game is over and we have to turn our attention to our next game so that we can stay alive in the tournament and advance to Friday."