Spartans Head West for Husky Classic, Faces No. 5 Washington Friday
Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate softball team will pack up its 24-0 record and head to the Pacific Northwest to take part in the Husky Softball Classic at the University of Washington this weekend. The Spartans open the tournament against Oregon State (7-7) on Friday at 1:00 p.m. Pacific, and will face the Beavers twice, undefeated and nationally-ranked Washington (16-0) twice and Seattle (1-15) once.
Upstate is off to its best start since the 2000 team began the season with a 28-0 record in NCAA Division II. The 24-straight wins to begin this season is the best start in Upstate's Division I era which began in 2008.
Upstate has never played any of the three teams it is matched up against in the Husky Classic. The Spartans have also never played a Top 25-ranked team since moving to the Division I ranks. That will change when Upstate faces Washington Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. The Huskies are ranked fifth in both the NFCA/USA Today and UltimateCollegeSoftball.com Top 25 polls, while coming in ranked No. 6 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. Upstate has received votes in all three polls this week.
Fans can follow the action live online in a variety of ways. Free live statistical updates will be available using Gametracker via www.gohuskies.com, the official Washington Athletics website. Live video for free will also be available for the games against Washington, also at gohuskies.com.
Looking Back at the North Carolina A&T
Hannah Alexander took a perfect game down to the last strike before allowing a hit in the bottom of the seventh inning in game one of a doubleheader sweep of North Carolina A&T Wednesday afternoon at Cyrill Stadium. Alexander was simply outstanding, striking out 10 along the way. Although she lost the perfect game, she did record the 7-0 shutout. In the second game, Upstate claimed a 9-1 win in five innings to improve to 24-0 on the year. Erica Kaufman and Ericka Harris each belted home runs to highlight the action at the plate in game two.
Upstate Gains Respect in Top 25 Polls
Upstate moved to within two spots or garnering its first-ever Top 25 ranking and now have received votes in all three major Top 25 polls when the polls were released on Tuesday. Upstate tallied 37 points in the UltimateCollegeSoftball.com poll and would be ranked No. 27 if the poll was expanded. The Spartans garnered votes for the first time ever in the NFCA/USA Today poll, earning three points. They would be ranked No. 32 if the poll were expanded. Finally, Upstate received three points in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and would be ranked No. 33 if that poll were expanded.
Freshman pitcher Hannah Alexander nearly pulled off an accomplishment no other Spartan has ever achieved, a perfect game, in game one of the doubleheader against North Carolina A&T (March 7). She faced the minimum through 20 outs. Taking the count to 1-and-2, she was just one strike away from recording the program's first perfect game, but gave up a hit down the line in left, the ball hitting off the fence for the only hit of the game.
Upstate Tops Nation in Wins, One of Five Undefeated Teams
Off to its best start in the school's Division I era and the best since the 2000 team began the season with a 28-0 record, Upstate leads the nation with 24 wins and is one of five undefeated programs left in the Division I ranks. Upstate owns a 24-0 record and is joined on the unbeaten list by Top 25 programs Michigan (23-0), Texas Tech (22-0), Florida (19-0) and Washington (16-0).
Childers Leads Nation in Wins
Morgan Childers owns a 17-0 record on the season and the start is good enough to place the senior as the nation's leader in wins. She has tossed two no-hitters this season in leading Upstate to a 24-0 record entering this weekend at the Husky Classic.
Upstate Sits Atop A-Sun Rankings
Off to a strong start to the season, Upstate currently sits atop the A-Sun rankings in all three major team categories. The Spartans top the conference with a .360 batting average, 0.50 ERA and .983 fielding percentage. Individually, Upstate players appear an amazing 59 times in the different top 10 lists in latest conference statistical ranking, including topping the conference in 15 categories (see page 5 sidebar).
Childers Reaches 100 Career Wins
With three wins at the Lowcountry Invitational (March 4-5), including two on Saturday to lead the Spartans to the championship, Morgan Childers earned her 100th career win at Upstate. She now owns a 101-21 career record. She is just the second pitcher in the history of the A-Sun to reach triple figures in wins and trails all-time leader Nikki Myers (Florida Atlantic) by just seven.
Four Tournaments, Four Tournament Titles for Spartans
Upstate has played in four tournaments this season and has claimed the championship in all four events. The Spartans opened the season by winning the Palmetto State Showdown (Feb. 11-13) at South Carolina. They won the next two tournaments played at Upstate, taking the Upstate Classic (Feb. 18-20) and the Campus Suites Spartan Classic (Feb. 25-27) at Cyrill Stadium. They claimed the Lowcountry Invitational (March 4-5) at Charleston Southern. Upstate will play one more regular season tournament, traveling to Seattle, Wash., to take part in the Husky Classic this coming weekend.
In winning the four tournaments, Upstate players have been named tournament MVP four times. Katie Zauner was named MVP at the Palmetto State Showdown. Ericka Harris earned MVP honors at the Upstate classic. Morgan Childers took home back-to-back MVP honors at the Campus Suites Spartan Classic and the Lowcountry Invitational.
Childers Tosses Sixth Career No-Hitter, Second of the Season
In a span of 15 days, Morgan Childers tossed two no-hitters to increase her career total to six. This time, she had to go the distance in the 2-0 win over La Salle on Feb. 27. Childers struck out a season-high 17 batters, one off of her own single-game school record of 18 (vs. Tusculum, 2008), to earn the win over the Explorers. She now has two no-no's this year, matching her season high of two last season. She had one in each of her freshman and sophomore seasons.
Spartans Off to Best Start in Division I Era
Upstate's 24-0 start is not only the best start of any A-Sun team this season, it is also the best start the program has had during its Division I era which started in 2008. Prior to this season, Upstate's top effort to begin a season was an 8-0 performance before losing in Ole Miss' tournament in 2009. The start is also the best since the 2000 squad went 28-0 to begin the season.
Upstate to Battle Nation's Elite
While Upstate must concentrate on the brutal A-Sun schedule of games and its demanding non-conference schedule, the Spartans will battle elite national teams this season, and it all starts this week. Upstate will travel to Seattle, Wash., to take on Washington twice in the Husky Classic. The Huskies are currently ranked No. 5 in the NFCA/USA Today and UltimateCollegeSoftball.com Top 25 polls, while ranking No. 6 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll. In addition, the Spartans will face Oregon State twice, a team that has received votes in the polls this season. Later on this month, the Spartans will take on Georgia, currently the top-ranked team in the USA Today/NFCA poll while ranking second in the UltimateCollegeSoftball.com poll and No. 3 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.
Childers Named to the Lowes Senior CLASS Award List
Morgan Childers has earned many awards and honors in her collegiate career. She received her first national honor on Feb. 16 when she was one of 30 Division I softball players to be named to the initial listing for the Lowes Senior CLASS Award. The program honors student-athletes who show excellence in four areas - community, classroom, character and competition. The list will be whittled down to 10 finalists in March with members of the media, Division I coaches and others voting on the winner which will be announced during the College World Series.
Brasil Moves into Top 10 All-Time for Hits
Kim Brasil's name appears in the Top 10 in seven different career statistical categories at Upstate. She recently moved into the Top 10 on Upstate's all-time hits list and is currently eighth with 176 in her career. She is the first player who has played her entire career on the Division I level to reach the Top 10 in the hits category. She also ranks fourth all-time with 46 doubles and eighth with 124 runs.
Childers Second on A-Sun Career Strikeouts, Wins and Shutouts Lists
Morgan Childers owns nine career school records, but she is also making a name for herself in the A-Sun. She has moved into second place in A-Sun history with 1,157 strikeouts. Florida Atlantic's Nikki Myers owns the all-time mark with 1,376. With 101 wins, Childers also moved into second place on the conference's all-time wins list. Myers also owns the all-time mark with 108. Lastly, Childers has recorded 40 shutouts in her career, trailing Myers on the all-time list at 47.
Childers Owns Nine Career Records at Upstate
Morgan Childers entered her senior season already the owner of seven career records at Upstate. Though early in the season, she has put two more records under her hat. She tops the all-time list with 101 wins, 1,157 strikeouts, 286 batters struck out looking, 40 shutouts, a .157 opponent batting average, 139 appearances, 108 games started, 91 complete games and 790.0 innings pitched.
Three Spartans Among All-Time Defensive Leaders
One of the nation's top defensive clubs last year and off to a strong start this season, three current Spartans currently rank among the all-time great defensive players at Upstate. Sophomore Ericka Harris tops the all-time list with a .994 fielding percentage, playing primarily as the starting catcher while also seeing action at first and third base. Lauren Quevedo ranks seventh all-time with a .987 fielding percentage and fifth all-time with 798 putouts as the starter at first base. Kim Brasil is eighth all-time with a .983 fielding percentage and 10th with 494 putouts. She has played both outfield and catcher in her career at Upstate and is currently the every day starter in left field for the Spartans this season.