Jacksonville, Fla. – The USC Upstate softball team gutted out a come-from-behind 4-1 victory in game one and Jacksonville came back to take the nightcap, 11-0, as the Spartans split it's a-Sun doubleheader at the Dolphins Friday night.
Upstate stands 32-8 overall and 5-3 in the A-Sun. The Spartans will take on North Florida in another rA-Sun doubleheader Saturday afternoon at 1:00. Jacksonville is 24-19 and 5-5 in the conference.
"We did a very good job at playing a very good Jacksonville team in the first game," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "Hannah Alexander did a great job pitching for us. Ericka Harris got some really good hits for us and we got timely hitting as a team. I was proud of how we played that game. The second game got out of hand for us quickly. But, good teams have a way to bounce back and I fully expect us to do that tomorrow at North Florida."
Upstate put a runner on in each of the first three innings, two with one out in the second, without getting any runs out of it in the first game. Jacksonville had just one on in the first two innings without scoring a run. But, the Dolphins broke on top in the third inning when Karson Tuck led off the inning with a solo home run to left.
Upstate continued to battle, putting at least one runner on in the fourth and fifth. In the fifth, the Spartans had two runners on with one out and narrowly took a 3-1 lead. However, Shellie Robinson's (DeLand, Fla.) shot to left that cleared the fences was foul by three feet. Jacksonville got out of the inning with a fielder's choice force out to third and a strikeout to maintain its 1-0 lead.
Upstate put things together in the sixth inning. Janna Lewis (Huntersville, N.C.) started things off with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Ashley Butler (Laurens, S.C.) was hit by a pitch and Lindsay Kelly (Jacksonville, Fla.) reached on a single to left to load the bases with one out.
The Spartans finally delivered when pinch hitter Erin Schattle (Goose Creek, S.C.) drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Hayley Reinfeld (Parkland, Fla.) followed with a single that brought in pinch runner Lindsey Greeson (Stanley, N.C.). Ericka Harris (Piedmont, S.C.) followed with a two-run double to left that gave Upstate a 4-1 lead.
Jacksonville put runners on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Upstate starter Hannah Alexander (Lexington, N.C.) pitched out of the jam without any runs scoring to secure the win for Upstate.
Alexander was strong in the circle. She allowed just one run and scattered four hits to earn the win. She struck out eight and improved to 21-3 on the year. Jacksonville starter Sarah Sigrest allowed four runs on nine Upstate hits to fall to 14-9 on the year with the loss.
Harris led Upstate at the plate with three hits and two RBIs. Reinfeld also picked up three hits, scoring a run and driving in another. The Spartans put runners on in each inning. Except for scoring four runs in the sixth, Upstate left nine runners on base in the game.
Jacksonville started the scoring in the second game. The Dolphins had three-straight hits to start the first inning to score a run and went ahead, 2-0, before Sarah Simon hit a three-run homer as Jacksonville opened a 5-0 lead.
Jacksonville added to the lead in the second inning when Melissa Morales hit a solo home run to left to give the Dolphins a 6-0 lead.
Upstate reliever Sam Poarch (Jacksonville, Fla.) came in to relieve starter Casee Clauser (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) in the second inning and initially settled down the Jacksonville bats. She got the Spartans out of the second inning without any further damage and pitched a scoreless third frame.
Jacksonville, though, added to its lead in the fourth inning. The Dolphins put runners on second and third with two outs and scored its first run of the inning on a wild pitch. Amanda Schmidt followed with an RBI-single as Jacksonville opened an 8-0 lead. They added two more runs on Tuck's two-run single as the Dolphins took a 10-0 lead. Simon hit another double to drive in a run as Jacksonville took an 11-0 advantage.
Upstate could not cut into the Jacksonville lead in the top of the fifth and the game ended early.
Clauser took the loss for Upstate, falling to 2-2 on the year. Jacksonville starter Brittany Eppley earned the win. She improved to 7-7.