Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate softball team will take its 28-6 overall record into action Wednesday afternoon when it plays host to Charleston Southern in a non-conference doubleheader starting at 2:00 at Cyrill Stadium.
Upstate went 4-2 last week to improve to 28-6 on the year. The performance allowed the Spartans to move up one spot and into the top 10 in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 poll. Charleston Southern enters Wednesday's games with a 20-16 overall record.
Upstate is 14-3 all-time against Charleston Southern, including a 9-1 mark during the Spartans' Division I era (since 2008). The Spartans claimed three wins last year by scores of 7-0, 5-0 and 5-2. The Buccaneers last defeated the Spartans in the second game a doubleheader in 2009. Upstate has won six straight in the series. Charleston Southern has solid wins on its schedule this season, including a 5-2 victory over Notre Dame.
Fans can follow the action online with live statistical updates at upstatespartans.com. A complete doubleheader recap along with game stats will be available following the completion of the games.
Upstate enters the doubleheader having swept every mid-week doubleheader this season. The Spartans are 10-0 in mid-week games this year. Wednesday's doubleheader is the last mid-week doubleheader of the season for Upstate. The Spartans will travel to Athens, Ga., next Tuesday to take on 9th-ranked Georgia in a single game in its final non-conference game of the season.
Freshman Impact Tops in Nation
To have as many as six freshmen in the starting lineup at one time, which Upstate has had four times this season, is certainly a rarity in college softball. The Spartans are one of five schools in the nation to have started six freshmen. The others are Florida, Minnesota, IUPUI and IPFW. The Spartans have started five freshmen on 28 occasions and four twice.
Upstate Cracks Top 10 in Mid-Major Top 25 Poll
After posting four wins in six games last week, Upstate cracked the top 10 in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 Poll released by midmajorpoll.blogspot.com. The Spartans had been ranked 11th for the last three weeks prior to moving up to No. 10 in this week's poll.
Upstate Remains in Top 100 in Latest RPI Report
Upstate remained in the top 100 in the latest RPI report released by the NCAA. The Spartans are ranked 84th in the nation, the second-highest South Carolina school behind South Carolina at No. 69. Upstate is the fourth-highest A-Sun school in the listing behind Lipscomb (58th), North Florida (72nd) and Jacksonville (75th). The average RPI of the A-Sun schools is 128.8. The average RPI of the Spartans' non-conference opponents is 178.8, a full 50 points behind the power of the A-Sun.
Spartans Tops in the A-Sun
As the second month of the season comes to an end, Upstate continues to remain one of the top teams in the A-Sun in the league's latest statistical leaders report. The Spartans lead all conference squads in the three main team categories, topping the A-Sun with a .341 batting average, 1.54 ERA and .976 fielding percentage. Individually, Shellie Robinson leads the conference with 12 home runs, 37 runs, .892 slugging percentage and 91 total bases. Hannah Alexander leads the league with 17 wins, while Lacey Dinney tops the conference with a 1.96 opponent batting average.
Upstate Among Nation's Statistical Leaders
Upstate ranks fifth in the nation with a .341 batting average, highlighting a number of high rankings in the latest statistical leader report released by the NCAA on Monday. The Spartans are 12th with 1.88 stolen bases per game and 14th with a 1.54 ERA, .976 fielding percentage and .824 winning percentage. Individually, Shellie Robinson ranks 11th with a .892 slugging percentage, 14th with 12 home runs, 18th with 1.09 runs per game and 30th with a .431 batting average. Hannah Alexander ranks seventh with 17 wins, eighth with seven shutouts and 23rd with a 1.20 ERA.
Through 34 games this season, Upstate's pitchers have recorded 18 shutouts. In fact, Upstate registered 13 shutouts in the first 14 games of the season. Hannah Alexander tops the team with seven solo shutouts, while Lacey Dinney has four. The Spartans have combined for seven 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 34 games of this season and has surpassed her total form a year ago, standing at 143 in 123.0 innings.
Spartans Playing Longball
Behind the power stick of Shellie Robinson, Upstate has seen a power surge this season. The Spartans have connected for 22 home runs in 34 games this season. Last year, Upstate totaled 35 home runs in 55 games. Robinson tops the Spartans with 12 home runs on the year, while Ashley Butler has four and Ericka Harris 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 34 games, Upstate has stolen 64 bases, surpassing the season total from last year. Upstate's Division I era record is 95 in 2008.