Upstate Awarded 2011 & 2012 A-Sun Softball Tournaments
Spartanburg, S.C. – Voted on the by league's administrators, the Atlantic Sun Conference announced Saturday that it has awarded the 2011 and 2012 Softball Championships to USC Upstate with games to be played at Cyrill Stadium.
"We are honored and excited to have been awarded the softball tournament for 2011 and 2012," said Mike Hall, Director of Athletics at Upstate. "The A-Sun Tournament is a wonderful event and will bring a high level of softball to the Upstate community. Stetson has done an outstanding job hosting the A-Sun Softball Championships and we want to continue the tradition to make this experience the best possible for the student-athletes, coaches and fans of the A-Sun. We have a strong tradition of hosting conference, regional and national tournaments on our campus and a top-notch staff to pull off these types of events. We welcome the opportunity to host the A-Sun Softball Championship and look forward to preparing for the event in the coming months."
Upstate, which was a co-host of the 2009 A-Sun Track & Field Championships at Clemson and which will host the A-Sun Cross Country Championships this fall, will host its first A-Sun Championship on campus when six teams will meet in Spartanburg May 12-14. Only six teams from the 11-team conference qualify for the A-Sun Tournament. Florida Gulf Coast will be ineligible to compete in the tournament while serving its final year of provisional status in its transition to NCAA Division I. As a result, 10 teams will battle for the six tournament spots. The final three spots for the 2010 A-Sun Tournament were not settled until the final weekend of the season.
"More than anything, I believe the A-Sun awarding us the softball tournament is a testament to the respect our athletic department and institution have received in a short time in the conference," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "We look forward to the challenges hosting the tournament will present. Stetson did a great job of hosting the championship and we have a lot to live up to. I know we have the staff and support needed to pull off a first-class tournament. Hopefully, for our sake, we will play ourselves into one of the six spots in the tournament. If we are fortunate to get in, maybe we can use the home field advantage to our favor. In any event, our program looks forward to hosting what is sure to be a tremendous championship."
Stetson has hosted the A-Sun Softball Championship each of the last four years. Prior to that, the tournament served a three-year stay in Boca Raton, Fla., and was hosted by former conference member Florida Atlantic. Upstate's selection as host for the championship will mark the first time since 2003 that the tournament has been played outside the state of Florida.
Upstate qualified for the 2010 A-Sun Tournament in its first year of eligibility after being fast-tracked into NCAA Division I by the University. The Spartans advanced to the championship game before settling for second place. In three years in the conference, Upstate has a 38-24 record in league play and a 104-46 overall record, finishing 41-15 overall and 11-9 in the A-Sun in 2010.
Upstate has a strong history of hosting national, regional and conference tournaments. The campus and Spartanburg community played host to the NCAA Division II Men's Soccer Final Four in 1995 and 1998, the first and second round of the NCAA Division II Men's Soccer Tournament in 2002 and 2003, the 1995 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships at Milliken Research Park, the 2004 and 2005 NCAA Division II Cross Country South Region Championships at Milliken, the 1998 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball South/South Atlantic Regional, several NCAA Division II Men's and Women's Tennis Regionals and several Peach Belt Conference Tournaments, including the 2004 PBC Softball Championship.
Cyrill Stadium was the second facility to open at the Louis P. Howell Athletic Complex at Upstate, following County University Soccer Stadium, with play beginning in 2002. Construction of the stadium, which won the National TURFACE/NFCA Field Maintenance Award in 2006 and four South Carolina Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) Field of the Year honors, was made possible by the financial gift of Frank Cyrill, a local businessman whose daughter, Allie, was a catcher at Upstate from 2002-05. Cyrill and Hawkins spent countless hours working on the facility themselves. Upstate is 159-44 all-time at the stadium, including a 24-6 mark in 2010.