Upstate Softball Ends Season Tops In Nation In Defense
Spartanburg, S.C. – The USC Upstate softball team ended a standout season by finishing tied with two other schools for the top spot in the nation with a .980 fielding percentage, while Kim Brasil led the nation with 21 total doubles. They are two of several team and individual accolades in the final statistics report released by the NCAA on Thursday.
Upstate committed just 31 errors in 1,528 chances, recording 1,134 putouts and 363 assists on the season. The Spartans ended the season tied with East Carolina and Fordham with a .980 fielding percentage to lead all Division I teams.
In addition to leading the nation in fielding percentage, Upstate finished 14th with a 1.91 ERA, 27th with a .732 winning percentage and 40th with 1.41 doubles per game.
"All of the team and individual rankings mean one thing, that we had a very good year," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "We stressed defense to the team from the first time we met in the fall and it was an emphasis throughout the year. Having Morgan (Childers) in the circle and dominating the way she did helped with the fielding percentage, but she was assisted by how solid the team played behind her. To lead the nation in anything is a big deal, but for us to lead the country in defense, in something that we stressed all year long, is really an accomplishment."
Individually, Morgan Childers not only turned in one of the top performances in school and A-Sun history, she ranked among the nation's leaders in several statistical categories. She ranked second in the nation with a 1.01 ERA, trailing only A-Sun conference rival Whitney Kiihnl (Lipscomb, 0.95) on the list. She ranked third in the nation behind North Carolina's Danielle Spaulding (2.61) while allowing 3.23 hits per game. She was fourth behind Washington's Danielle Lawrie (24) with 16 shutouts. She was also fourth in the nation in total strikeouts, ending the season with 428 and trailing Sara Plourde (UMass, 556), Jen Mineau (Fordham, 503) and Lawrie (495). Lawrie passed Childers on the list during Washington's run at the Women's College World Series. Childers also ranked seventh in the nation with 34 wins, trailing Lawrie and Plourde who each finished with 40.
"I'm not sure that we will ever see another performance out of a pitcher at Upstate like we saw out of Morgan this year," said Hawkins. "To say that we leaned on her is an understatement. She put our team on her back in so many games. I am proud of what she accomplished this year and throughout her career. While she is not the type of person to brag on herself instead giving credit to her teammates for her success, she deserves every honor and recognition she gets."
A Kings Mountain, N.C., native and rising senior, Childers led Upstate to a 41-15 record and an appearance in the championship game of the A-Sun Tournament in the program's first year of full NCAA Division I eligibility. She broke five career and nine single-season school records in 2010. She moved to the top of the all-time list with 84 wins, 32 shutouts, 122 appearances, a .162 opponent batting average and 693.2 innings pitched. She broke her own season school record with 428 strikeouts, smashing her old record of 277 set in 2009. The 428 strikeouts were also the second most all-time in A-Sun history, nine shy of the season mark of 437 by Nikki Myers (Florida Atlantic) in 2002. Childers entered 2010 already the owner of the school's all-time strikeouts record and now has 963 in her career. She is second on the A-Sun's career list, trailing Myers at 1,376. She also ranks second all-time in the A-Sun in wins, fourth in shutouts and eighth in ERA.
Childers was not the only Spartan to rank among the nation's best in the final NCAA statistical report. Brasil, a native of Mississauga, Ontario, led the nation and tied Hawai'i's Jessica Iwata with 21 total doubles on the year. Iwata tied Brasil during Hawai'i's run in the Women's College World Series. The 21 doubles were the second-most hit by a Spartan in a single-season behind Heidi Gibbs' 23 in 2006, and stands as the most in the Division I era at Upstate. Brasil tied four other people for third in the nation with 0.38 doubles per game. She also ranked 67th in the nation with 0.86 runs per game.
Crislyn Chewning, who ended her collegiate career at the A-Sun Tournament in May, finished the season as the third-toughest player to strikeout. The Willamina, Ore., native struck out just five times in 141 at bats.
"Kim and Crislyn led us at the plate all year long," said Hawkins. "They were consistent in their performances and did what they were supposed to do at the plate. Still, the numbers they put up against the competition we played are certainly incredible."