Spartans Head to Florida for USF Under Armour Showcase
Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate softball team will load the bus for its first road trip of significant distance when it travels to Clearwater, Fla., to participate in the USF Under Armour Showcase Friday-Sunday at the Eddie C. Moore Complex.
The Spartans will open the tournament on Friday against a pair of schools from the Big East, taking on Villanova at 4:15 p.m. and 23rd-ranked Syracuse at 6:30 p.m. The Spartans will also face Penn State (Saturday, 2:00 p.m.) from the Big Ten, Boston University (Saturday, 6:30 p.m.) from the America East Conference and Central Michigan (Sunday, 11:15 a.m.) from the Mid-America Conference. There are 24 teams in the showcase tournament hosted by South Florida. Collectively, Upstate's opponents are 30-28 on the year. Villanova stands 7-3 entering the week, while Syracuse is 9-6, but is coming off impressive wins over three ranked opponents last weekend. Penn State is 6-8, Boston stands 5-4 and Central Michigan is 3-7.
Upstate has started the season on a hot streak, winning its first 16 games with 13 shutouts before falling to Dayton this past Saturday. Upstate rattled off two wins following the Dayton loss to win the Subway Spartan Classic at Upstate, the fourth-straight tournament hosted by the Spartans at Cyrill Stadium this season. Hannah Alexander was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament after going 2-0 to lead the Spartans.
Fans can follow the action online through upstatespartans.com, the official website of Upstate Athletics. Links to live statistics are available, while complete game recaps and final game statistics will be posted following the completion of play each day. In addition, the games against Villanova and Boston University will be streamed live for a fee and can be accessed through http://www.tlstv.com/payperview.
Alexander MVP, Three Others Named All-Tournament at Subway Spartan Classic
After going 2-0 during the weekend, including a solid outing in the tournament finale against Appalachian State, Hannah Alexander was named the tournament Most Valuable Player of the Subway Spartan Classic. She also tossed 5.1 innings of relief in keeping Upstate in the game against Dayton (March 3). She earned wins over Dayton (March 2) and Appalachian State (March 4).
Taking the trip to Florida for the USF Under Armour Classic this week and later on to Jacksonville for A-Sun doubleheaders against North Florida and Jacksonville, it will be a homecoming of sorts for a large portion of the team. Seven of the 23 players on the roster, 30 percent of the team, are from the Sunshine State.
Spartans Garner National Attention in Top 25 Polls, Ranked 14th in Mid-Major Poll
For the second-straight week, Upstate has received a measure of respect by the nation's coaches by receiving votes in the NFCA/USA Today and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 polls. The Spartans received three votes in the NFCA/USA Today poll, one more than last week, and one vote in the ESPN.com poll, the same as last week. In addition, the Spartans are ranked 14th in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 poll released by midmajorpoll.blogspot.com. Upstate will battle 23rd-ranked Syracuse this weekend in the USF Under Armour Classic.
Earned Run Streak Ends at 89 1/3 Innings
It took opponents 89.1 innings and into the 15th game of the season to get an earned run off of Upstate's pitchers. Prior to playing Dayton on March 2, Upstate had not given up an earned run all season long. The Spartans did allow three unearned runs against George Mason, but those were all of the runs scored against the Spartans prior to Friday.
Through 19 games this season, Upstate's pitchers have recorded 14 shutouts. In fact, Upstate had registered 13 shutouts in the first 14 games of the season. Hannah Alexander and Lacey Dinner each have four solo shutouts on the year.
Alexander Upping the Strikeout Totals
Hannah Alexander turned in a solid freshman campaign in 2011 and finished the year with 106 strikeouts in 119.2 innings pitched. She has improved her strikeout totals through the first 19 games of this season and has 91 through just 66 innings pitched.
Spartans Playing Longball
Behind the power stick of Shellie Robinson, Upstate has seen a power surge this season. Upstate has connected for 14 home runs in 19 games so far in 2012. Last year, Upstate totaled 35 home runs in 55 games. Robinson tops the Spartans with seven home runs on the year, while Ashley Butler and Kendall Settlemyre each have two.
Spartans Terrors on the Base Paths
In the Division II days, head coach Chris Hawkins used speed to put pressure on the opponent's defense while also setting up situations for the hitters to drive in runs. The 2012 team looks like the Spartan teams of old. Through the first 19 games, Upstate has stolen 48 bases, already surpassing the season total from last year. Upstate's Division I era record is 95 in 2008.
Robinson on a Streak
Shellie Robinson enters the USF Under Armour Showcase on a couple of streaks. She has reached base in a team-high 15-straight games and is on a seven-game hitting streak, the second-longest of the season for the Spartans.
Spartans Tops in A-Sun
A little more than a quarter of the games into the season, Upstate stands atop the A-Sun statistical rankings in several team and individual categories. The Spartans rank first among all league teams in the three major team categories with a .359 batting average, 0.52 ERA and .981 fielding percentage.
Individually, the Spartans lead the A-Sun in eight categories. Shellie Robinson tops the conference with 36 total bases and 21 runs. Ericka Harris ranks first with a .469 batting average and a .544 on-base percentage. Hannah Alexander leads the league with 11 wins, a 0,43 ERA and 91 strikeouts, while Lacey Dinney is tops with a .132 opponent batting average.