Spartanburg, S.C. – Off to its best start during the Division I era, the USC Upstate softball team has received its first national recognition after receiving votes in the UltimateCollegeSoftball.com Top 25 and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 polls released Tuesday.
Upstate is among others receiving votes, garnering 15 votes in the UltimateSoftball.com poll. If the poll were expanded, the Spartans would be ranked 32nd behind Kentucky, Auburn and Kansas and in front of Syracuse, BYU and New Mexico State. Upstate received one vote in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. If that poll were expanded, Upstate would be ranked 33rd behind Notre Dame, Fresno State, Auburn and Florida State. It marks the first time in Upstate's four seasons playing on the Division I level that the softball program has received votes in a national poll.
"There are a lot of great teams in college softball and to receive our first recognition among them is a big accomplishment," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins, now in his 17th year at the helm of the program. "What it means is that we have achieved a level of respect in the game. We have worked hard to get our program to a level where we can compete and have success on the Division I level. We need to continue to work to improve and not rest on whatever success and recognition we have received."
Upstate stands 10-0 starting this week. It is the best start since the 2009 squad began the season winning eight-straight games before losing at Ole Miss' tournament. It is the best start since the 2007 team began the season with 12 straight-wins en route to securing its fourth-straight appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament in the program's final year playing on the Division II level.
Upstate ranks at the top of the A-Sun in several statistical categories. The Spartans lead the league as a team with a .375 batting average, 1.02 ERA and .991 fielding percentage. Individually, Ericka Harris (Piedmont, S.C.) tops the conference with a .556 batting average, 15 hits and 14 runs. Morgan Childers (Kings Mountain, N.C.) leads the conference with seven wins and 79 strikeouts. Harris is the reigning A-Sun Player of the Week, while Childers is the reigning A-Sun Pitcher of the Week as the Spartans have swept weekly honors from the conference in each of the first two weeks of the season.
Upstate plays host to North Carolina Central Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 before playing host to the Campus Suites Spartan Classic this weekend at Cyrill Stadium.