Spartanburg, S.C. – Battling at the top of the conference the entire season, the USC Upstate softball team will enter this week's A-Sun Tournament with its highest seed ever, garnering a first round bye after earning the No. 2 seed.
The A-Sun Tournament is being hosted by Lipscomb at Draper Diamond in Nashville, Tenn., May 8-11. The tournament will begin with two games being played on Wednesday, four on Thursday, three on Friday and either one or two on Saturday depending on the result of the first game of Championship Saturday.
Upstate grabbed hold of first place after the first week of A-Sun play and rattled off 16-straight A-Sun wins to put itself in position to win the regular season championship for the first time since 2008. However, the Spartans dropped five of its last seven A-Sun games, had its entire weekend series against eighth-place Mercer rained out last week and slipped to second after North Florida caught fire and rallied to win the regular season championship by a half a game over Upstate.
North Florida makes its first ever appearance in the A-Sun Championship after becoming tournament eligible in 2008. The Ospreys will be the No. 1 seed in the double elimination tournament. Upstate is the No. 2 seed and will open play Thursday morning at 10:00 a.m. against the winner of Wednesday's game between No. 3 seed Florida Gulf Coast and No. 6 seed Stetson. North Florida will play on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday's game between No. 4 Lipscomb and No. 5 Kennesaw State.
Upstate enters the A-Sun Tournament armed with a bevy of accomplishments in the regular season. The Spartans received their first-ever national Top 25 ranking in a major Top 25 poll when it entered the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll at No. 24 in April. They broke their own school record with most consecutive wins in A-Sun play (16) and most wins overall in the conference (17). Upstate also broke its Division I era school record for home runs, entering the A-Sun Tournament with 47 on the year. The Spartans are just one home run away from the all-time school record of 48 hit by the 1999 squad.
Upstate stands 37-9 overall and 17-6 in the A-Sun, having had four conference games (one at Jacksonville, three vs. Mercer) canceled due to rain. The No. 2 seed is the highest seed the Spartans have ever received in four appearances in the A-Sun Tournament. Upstate was the No. 4 seed in 2010 when it made its debut in conference tournament in its first year of postseason eligibility on the Division I level and advanced to the championship game. The Spartans were the No. 3 seed in each of the last two tournaments in 2011 and 2012 and own the No. 2 seed this season. Upstate is 10-5 this season against the other five teams in the tournament, the best record of any of the teams in the championship. Lipscomb owns the second best record at 8-6, while North Florida and Florida Gulf Coast are both 6-6. Kennesaw State is 6-9 against the other five teams, while Stetson is 5-10.
Fans can follow the A-Sun Tournament online at upstatespartans.com. Links to live video and live stats for free are available. Fans can also follow tournament coverage at atlanticsun.org. The tournament games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday can be seen on ASun.TV, while Saturday's championship games(s) can be seen on ESPN3.
2013 A-Sun Tournament Schedule
(Double Elimination Format)
Wednesday, May 8
Game 1: 3:00 p.m. - #3 Florida Gulf Coast vs. #6 Stetson
Game 2: 5:30 p.m. - #4 Lipscomb vs. #5 Kennesaw State
Thursday, May 9
Game 3: 10:00 a.m. - #2 Upstate vs. Winner of #3/#6
Game 4: 12:30 p.m. - #1 North Florida vs. Winner of #4/#5
Game 5: 3:00 p.m. – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
Game 6: 5:30 p.m. – Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4
Friday, May 10
Game 7: 12:30 p.m. - Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4
Game 8: 3:00 p.m. – Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6
Game 9: 5:30 p.m. – Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8
Saturday, May 11
Game 10: 12:00 p.m. – Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9 (Championship Game)
Game 11 (if necessary): immediately following first game