Alexander Flirts with Perfect Game as Upstate Sweeps Western Carolina
Spartanburg, S.C. – Hannah Alexander flirted with a perfect game and no-hitter before settling for a 1-0 shutout in game one and the Spartans connected on three home runs in the second as the USC Upstate softball team took a non-conference doubleheader sweep from Western Carolina Wednesday evening at Cyrill Stadium.
Upstate improved to 25-3 with the sweep of the Catamounts Wednesday. The Spartans are now 8-0 all-time against Western Carolina. Upstate will hit the road for a three-game A-Sun series against Kennesaw State in Kennesaw, Ga., Friday and Saturday. Western Carolina fell to 11-21 with the losses.
"It was good for us to play a close game and pull out a win in the first game heading into this weekend against a very good Kennesaw State team," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "We rebounded with our bats in the second game and scored some runs, which was really nice to see. Hannah was very solid again today and that is a good sign for us heading into conference games this weekend."
After leaving two on in the bottom of the first and going through two scoreless innings, Upstate broke through to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning of game one. Meredith Barnes (Salem, Ore.) singled with one out and stole second. She advanced to third on a ground out and scored when Shellie Robinson (DeLand, Fla.) reached on an infield error.
The one run was all that Alexander (Lexington, N.C.) would need. She took a perfect game into the sixth inning before an infield error put a runner on first. She took a no-hitter into the seventh before surrendering a single through the left side. She tied a career-high with 12 strikeouts en route to the shutout victory, the 19th of her career. It was the fifth one-hitter of her career
Upstate threatened to add to its lead in the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, the Spartans put runners on second and third with two outs, but couldn't produce a run. In the sixth, Upstate got a leadoff double from Maddison Kieffer (Middleburg, Fla.), but stranded the runner at second as Alexander entered the seventh holding the 1-0 lead.
Alexander had to dodge a little trouble in the seventh. Western Carolina put runners on first and second with a leadoff single and a walk with no outs. The runners moved to second and third with one out. Western Carolina attempted a squeeze and Megan Crowe, the runner on third, was caught in no-man's land and was thrown out at third for the second out of the inning. Alexander struck out Sarah Perrine for the final out of the game.
Ericka Harris (Piedmont, S.C.) led Upstate at the plate with two hits. Western Carolina starter Taylor Sigmon went the distance, allowing one unearned run on five Upstate hits to fall top 0-6 on the year.
Upstate put together some early offense in the second game, plating two runs on Kieffer's two-out double in the bottom of the first inning. The double came after an error that would have ended the inning in a scoreless tie. Instead, Upstate took a 2-0 advantage.
Upstate made it a 5-0 lead in the second inning when Barnes connected on a three-run home run to left. It was her third homer of the season.
While Upstate cashed in early, Western Carolina could not do so. The Catamounts stranded three runners in the first two innings without plating a run. That changed in the third when the Catamounts scored an unearned run on Sigmon's RBI double.
Upstate, though, put more distance between itself and Western in the third inning. Cheyenne Griffin (Moore, S.C.) and Dana Landers (Simpsonville, S.C.) smacked solo home runs to give the Spartans a 7-1 lead after three.
Upstate threatened to end the game early, loading the bases with two outs in the fourth inning. However, the Spartans could not push any runs across as the score stayed a 7-1 Upstate advantage.
Upstate starter Jamie Ujvari (Niceville, Fla.) was in control throughout the game. She got a little defensive help as well, highlighted by Kendall Settlemyre's (Hickory, N.C.) diving stab of a line drive in the fifth inning that would have scored a run from third had she not come up with the play.
Upstate had another chance to end the game early and, this time, cashed in. The Spartans put runners on second and third with one out in the fifth when Hayley Reinfeld singled in a run. An intentional walk of Barnes loaded the bases and the game ended when Harris reached on an error to the right fielder which would have brought in the game-winning run regardless as Upstate took the second game, 9-1.
Ujvari went the distance in the run-rule game. She allowed one unearned run on three hits with six strikeouts to improve to 11-0 on the year. Western Carolina starter Jordan Garrett took the loss after allowing six runs on five hits in two innings of work.
Griffin and Reinfeld led Upstate at the plate in the second game, each coming up with a pair of hits. Barnes had three RBIs, while Kieffer added a pair of RBIs.