Alexander Near Perfect as Upstate Softball Sweep Stetson
Spartanburg, S.C. – USC Upstate pitcher Hannah Alexander had her bid for a perfect game ruined with one out in the seventh, but she and game two starter Jamie Ujvari tossed a pair of shutouts as the Spartans took a key A-Sun doubleheader sweep of Stetson Saturday evening at Cyrill Stadium. Upstate claimed a 3-0 win in game one and an 8-0 win in game two.
Alexander took a perfect game through six innings and one out in the seventh before surrendering a hit. She still earned the shutout and watched as Ujvari (Niceville, Fla.) tossed her own shutout in game two as Upstate improved to 31-3 overall and a league-leading 12-1 in the A-Sun. Stetson fell to 20-15 overall and 3-8 in the league. The teams will complete their three-game A-Sun series Sunday afternoon at 1:00 at Cyrill Stadium.
"I didn't think we hit the ball in bunches like we had been, we scattered our hits today," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "We were solid pitching and defensively and pushed through it. Hannah and Jamie both threw well and I am really proud of the way they are handling themselves midway through the season."
With the wins Saturday, Upstate reached 30 wins for the fourth consecutive season and the ninth time in the last 10 years. Upstate wore special pink uniforms in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Day as the softball program and Upstate's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) raised money for the Gibbs Cancer Center in the battle against the deadly disease. Athletic Department administrative assistant Connie Brewer threw out the ceremonial first pitch in recognition of her triumph over breast cancer 20 years ago.
Upstate took little time getting its offense going in the first game, plating a run to open a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Maddison Kieffer (Middleburg, Fla.) drove in Shellie Robinson (DeLand, Fla.) from third to strike first for the Spartans. Upstate had runners on second and third with two outs, but Stetson starting pitcher Meredith Owen got a fly out to right to end the inning and limit the damage.
Owen came up big in the second inning. The Spartans loaded the bases with two outs, but she got a ground out force at home and a strikeout to end the inning and keep the Stetson deficit to 1-0.
Upstate had its opportunities to break the game open early in the game. The Spartans stranded seven base runners in the first four innings, aided by Stetson's strategy of intentionally walking Robinson twice with runners in scoring position.
While Upstate had its opportunities early on and did cash in on a run in the first, Stetson could get nothing going thanks to the efforts of Spartan hurler Alexander (Lexington, N.C.). Alexander took a perfect game into the seventh inning before surrendering a one-out hit to Chrissy Morello to end her history-chasing effort. There has only been one perfect game thrown in the history of the Upstate program, a five-inning perfecto by Kristy Middagh against North Greenville in 2002.
Upstate loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth after Robinson drew her third consecutive intentional walk. This time, Ericka Harris (Piedmont, S.C.) delivered with a two-run single to give the Spartans some breathing room and a 3-0 lead.
After Morello ruined Alexander's perfect game with a single, Stetson put runners on first and second with two outs and Owen at the plate. Owen, though, lined out to left field to end the game as Alexander recorded her 14th win of the season (14-2) and her fifth shutout. Alexander was outstanding, finishing the game with six strikeouts and allowing just two hits. Owen (12-6) took the loss after allowing three runs on nine Upstate hits.
Harris and Hayley Reinfeld (Parkland, Fla.) led the Spartans at the plate, each with two hits. Harris came up with the big insurance-run hit in the sixth.
Upstate struck early again in game two of the doubleheader. Robinson and Harris led off the first inning by being hit by a pitch. A fly out and walk later, Cheyenne Griffin (Moore, S.C.) slapped a bases-loaded single up the middle that brought in two runs. The Spartans added a third run on the play as Stetson's center fielder let the ball go through her legs and Kieffer scored from first.
Dana Landers (Simpsonville, S.C.) singled off Stetson pitcher Courtney Brandt's glove to drive in Griffin from third and give the Spartans a 4-0 lead. Upstate scored four runs, with just two of the runs earned, on two hits and two Hatter errors.
Stetson looked like it might make some noise in the second inning, putting runners on first and second with no outs in the second. However, Upstate's Ujvari retired the next three batters to get out of the inning unscathed.
Upstate made it a 6-0 lead in the second inning. After loading the bases with two outs, Landers picked up an infield single to drive in a run, but the Hatter second baseman's throw was errant and Kieffer scampered home for the second run on the play as the Spartans took a commanding lead.
Upstate ended the game in the sixth inning. After loading the bases with one out, Landers singled through the right side to end the game an inning early with the Spartans taking an 8-0 win.
Ujvari took the win, going six innings and allowing just five hits with three strikeouts to improve to 13-0 on the year. Landers led the Spartans at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs, while Griffin and Lindsay Kelly (Jacksonville, Fla.) each had two hits. Brandt took the loss, allowing six runs on three hits to fall to 7-6.