SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Four years ago, USC Upstate began a journey to join the NCAA Division I ranks and pending approval by the NCAA Board of Governors, Upstate will become an active member of D-I on Sept. 1, 2011. With the transitional phase nearly complete, the media relations office takes a look back at some of the top moments of the transitional phase, today's spotlight, softball.
On July 1, the top 10 moments of the transition were compiled into an online web poll and thanks to the votes of Spartan fans, the final tally is in. Without any further ado, here are the top three moments of the transitional phase for Upstate softball.
Moment No. 3
Childers Fans 18, Tosses No-Hitter in Spartan Debut
Feb. 13, 2008
In what turned out to be a stellar career, the top of any softball player in the history of the program, pitcher Morgan Childers began her career by tossing a no-hitter and breaking the single-game school record with 18 strikeouts to lead the Spartans to a 3-0 victory over Tusculum in the hurler's collegiate debut. She tossed two innings of relief in the second game of the doubleheader to earn the 4-3 victory to complete the sweep of the Lady Pioneers.
Upstate opened the season against Tusculum and Childers took to the circle. In tossing a no-hitter, the first of six in her career, she recorded 21 outs, 18 by herself, without a hit.
Childers was simply dominant in the circle in game one. She did not allow a runner to move into scoring position the entire game, getting key strikeouts to end each inning. She struck out 18 batters to break a school record that has stood for nearly 16 years. Debra Rozier struck out 15 batters on March 8, 1992 against Austin Peay. Rozier's mark stood the test of time until Wednesday afternoon when Childers stepped into the circle.
Upstate scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Heidi Gibbs' ground out scored Kim Brasil from third and Courtney Feldon followed with a double that scored Shay Slater to give Upstate a 2-0 lead. The Spartans added a run in the third inning when Brasil scored on Slater's sacrifice fly to center.
The runs would be all that Childers would need. She struck out the side five times in the game. Brasil led Upstate offensively, scoring a pair of runs and stealing two bases.
Moment No. 2
Spartans win 11 of final 12 league games to claim share of A-Sun Championship
April 27, 2008
After taking a wrong turn and getting to the field late, Upstate pulled together for a sweep at Jacksonville on April 4, 2008, setting off a chain of events and a string of wins that would eventually result in the Spartans winning 11 of their final 12 league games to win a share of the A-Sun regular season championship in the program's first year playing on the Division I level.
Following the sweep at Jacksonville, Upstate swept North Florida on April 9 to improve to 9-5 in the A-Sun. The following weekend, the Spartans played host to Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast. FGCU entered the weekend in first place and had been dominant throughout the season. Lauren Quevedo belted a grand slam in game one and a two-run homer in game two to lead Upstate to a sweep of Stetson on April 11. The very next day, FGCU came to Cyrill Stadium and Quevedo again belted a grand slam as the Spartans stunned the Eagles by claiming a sweep.
Upstate went on to split its doubleheader at Lipscomb on April 19, the only blemish in the final 12 league games of the season. The Spartans entered the season finale at Mercer needing a sweep and some help. They got just that. Kim Brasil nearly hit for the cycle in game one and Morgan Childers went the distance as Upstate claimed a 4-3 win over the Bears in nine innings. In game two, Childers came in to toss 3 2/3 innings of relief to earn the win and the sweep as Upstate ended its season with a 34-15 overall record and a 16-6 mark in the A-Sun.
Upstate, not allowed to play in the A-Sun or NCAA Tournament in 2008 while reclassifying from NCAA Division II to Division I, waited as Stetson swept Florida Gulf Coast on April 29. With FGCU losing both games, Upstate claimed a share of the regular season crown with FGCU and Lipscomb.
Moment No. 1
Childers becomes first Upstate softball player to be drafted into the NPF
March 18, 2011
While closing out the best career in program history, and one of the best in the history of the athletic department, Upstate softball pitcher Morgan Childers reached yet another milestone to be placed on her lengthy resume when she was chosen by the Akron Racers with the 14th pick of the 2011 NPF Draft.
Childers became the first Upstate softball player to ever get drafted into professional softball. At the completion of Upstate's season, Childers joined the Racers and went 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA in seven games and 29 innings before having her season ended after breaking her big toe on her right foot in late-July.
Childers, from Kings Mountain, N.C., finished her career with 11 career and single-season school records, including 113 wins, 1,338 strikeouts, 42 shutouts and six no-hitters in her career. She broke the all-time A-Sun record for wins and finished second in strikeouts and shutouts. She was named the A-Sun Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year in 2008, the first and only player to receive both honors in the same season in A-Sun history, en route to leading the Spartans to a share of the A-Sun regular season championship in the program's first season playing on the Division I level.
Childers ended her career with three first team all-conference and one second team all-conference selections, one of only seven players in the history of the league to earn four all-conference honors. She was a two-time all-region pick and is the only student-athlete to win back-to-back Student-Athlete of the Year awards at Upstate (and the second to ever win the award twice). She also became the first student-athlete to ever have their jersey retired at Upstate, an accomplishment that may be greater than any single award the university could bestow upon her now or in the future.
The media relations office will continue to release the top three moments from each sport leading up to the first athletic competition of the 2011-12 academic year, a women's soccer exhibition match against Spartanburg Methodist College on Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Men's & Women's Tennis (Aug. 12)
Men's & Women's Track and Field (Aug. 15)
Volleyball (Aug. 16)