Spartanburg, S.C. – For the third time in six years being a member of the A-Sun, and for the second consecutive year, USC Upstate softball can boast the A-Sun's Freshman of the Year as pitcher Jamie Ujvari earned the league's newcomer honor when the conference announced its postseason honors Tuesday.
Ujvari, from Niceville, Fla., was also named an A-Sun First Team All-Conference selection, joining four other Spartans on the all-conference team in 2013. Shortstop Maddison Kieffer (So., Middleburg, Fla.) and outfielders Meredith Barnes (Jr., Salem, Ore.) and Shellie Robinson (So., DeLand, Fla.) joined Ujvari as first team selections, while Cheyenne Griffin (So., Moore, S.C.) earned second team honors. Robinson and Griffin have earned their second all-conference honor after taking home first team honors as freshmen last year. Ujvari was also a unanimous all-freshman selection.
"I am extremely proud of all of our players who received postseason honors," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "We had a very good season and the fact that we had five all-conference selections is certainly an indication of how well we played. I am proud of Jamie and how well she performed at such a pressure position. Maddie, Shellie and Chey emerged as leaders and key players last year and continued to lead our team this season. Meredith came in and provided our team with a tremendous spark and became one of the best players in the league. I couldn't be happier for them all and look forward to beginning the A-Sun Tournament Thursday."
Ujvari is the third Upstate player to earn freshman of the year honors in the A-Sun since the Spartans joined the conference in 2007-08. She joins all-time pitching great Morgan Childers and current sophomore Spartan Shellie Robinson in earning the award. In addition, Ujvari, Childers and Robinson hold the distinction of also earning first team all-conference honors in the same year they were selected as freshman of the year in the league. With Robinson and Ujvari, Upstate has won the freshman of the year award in back-to-back seasons.
Ujvari was simply outstanding in her first season with Upstate. She finished the regular season with a 17-3 overall record and an 11-3 mark in the A-Sun. She currently leads the conference with a .189 opponent batting average and ranks in the Top 5 in wins (17), ERA (1.84) and strikeouts (128). Against A-Sun foes only, she ranks second in wins (11) and opponent batting average (.187), third in ERA (1.77) and fourth in strikeouts (77). She battled nationally-ranked Kentucky for 6 1/3 innings of work before the Wildcats prevailed in an 11-inning thriller at Cyrill Stadium. She also tossed a no-hitter against regular season champion North Florida.
Barnes was a standout at the College of Siskiyous prior to transferring to Upstate after a strong junior college career. She is tied for the team lead and third in the A-Sun with a .374 batting average and ranks among the league's best players. She is ranked in the Top 10 in the A-Sun in slugging percentage (4th, .705), home runs (6th, 11) and runs (5th, 44). She was also tremendous in A-Sun play, hitting a consistent .361.
Kieffer turned in a career year as the starting shortstop at Upstate. She hit over .400 for most of the season and currently ranks tied for third in the A-Sun with a .374 batting average. She has been a catalyst on defense for the Spartans and has also become a leader on and off the field. She has nine doubles, two triples, five home runs, 31 runs and 34 RBIs with a .602 slugging percentage on the year. She hit .353 with four home runs and no errors in A-Sun play. Kieffer also earned A-Sun Academic All-Conference honors carrying a 3.378 GPA as a Nursing major.
Robinson had another standout season for the Spartans in 2013. She followed a strong freshman campaign in 2012 with a solid all-around effort in 2013. She ranks in the Top 10 in the A-Sun in batting average (10th, .343), slugging percentage (2nd, .724), doubles (2nd, 14), home runs (6th, 11) and RBIs (3rd, 43). She finished the regular season with 45 runs, two triples, 15 stolen bases and a .983 fielding percentage as well. She led the Spartans in A-Sun play, hitting a strong .375 with a league-leading nine doubles.
Griffin became a leader on the team as a sophomore and helped Upstate garner the nation's top defensive unit as the starter at first base. She committed just two errors on the year while hitting a solid .309 with five doubles, four home runs, 28 RBIs and 18 runs. She also hit .299 during A-Sun play, collecting 14 RBIs against league foes.
The five all-conference selections garnered this season by Upstate are the most ever in a single season for the Spartans since joining the A-Sun in 2007-08. Previously, Upstate had three all-conference selections in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and two in 2009.
Florida Gulf Coast's Chelsea Zgrabik and Jacksonville's Sarah Simon were named the A-Sun co-Players of the Year. Regular season champion North Florida had the Pitcher of the Year in Kaylie Wallace and the Coach of the Year in Marcie Hickey.
Hawkins Named Coach of the Year by College Sports Madness
When College Sports Madness announced its postseason conference awards, eight different Spartans, including head coach Chris Hawkins, were honored by the online site covering college athletics. Hawkins was named CSM's A-Sun Coach of the Year, marking the first time in his 19 years at the head of the Upstate program that he has earned a Coach of the Year honor.
Hawkins led the Spartans to a 37-9 overall record and 17-6 mark in the A-Sun during the regular season and earned a program-impacting 8-5 victory at Georgia in April. He also coached the Spartans to a marathon 11-inning showdown against nationally-ranked Kentucky before falling to the Wildcats at Cyrill Stadium. He led the Spartans to their highest-ever ranking in the RPI, peaking at No. 37 for two weeks earlier this season, as well as garnering the school's first-ever national Top 25 ranking in a major Top 25 poll. The Spartans jumped into the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll at Ni. 24 on April 9.
In addition to Hawkins' honor, catcher Ericka Harris (Sr., Piedmont, S.C.), shortstop Maddison Kieffer (So., Middleburg, Fla.) and outfielder Meredith Barnes (Jr., Salem, Ore.) were first team all-league selections by CSM. Pitchers Jamie Ujvari (Fr., Niceville, Fla.) and Hannah Alexander (Jr., Lexington, N.C.), second baseman Dana Landers (So., Simpsonville, S.C.) and outfielder Shellie Robinson (So., Deland, Fla.) were second team all-league selections, marking the most postseason picks by CMS for Upstate in the history of the program. Robinson and Alexander were CSM's Player and Pitcher of the Year last season.
Harris is tied for the team lead and ranks third in the A-Sun with a .374 batting average and leads the Spartans with 55 hits. She ranks second on the team with 11 doubles and is Upstate's career leader with a .995 fielding percentage. Kieffer is tied with Harris and Barnes for the team lead and third in the A-Sun with a .374 batting average. She ranks ninth in the A-Sun with 34 RBIs. Barnes is tied with Harris and Kieffer for the team lead and third in the A-Sun with a .374 batting average. She is ranked in the Top 10 in the A-Sun in slugging percentage (4th, .705), home runs (6th, 11) and runs (5th, 44) and hit .361 in A-Sun play.
Ujvari and Alexander combined to be a potent pitching duo this season for Upstate. Ujvari finished the regular season with a 17-3 overall record and a 1.84 ERA with an A-Sun-best 1.89 opponent batting average and 128 strikeouts. She ranks in the Top 5 in the A-Sun in wins, ERA, opponent batting average and strikeouts. Alexander finished the regular season with a 15-4 overall record and a 2.12 ERA with 108 strikeouts. She ranks in the Top 10 in the A-Sun in wins, ERA, opponent batting average and strikeouts.
Landers turned in a solid season as the starter at second base. She has raised her average by more than 60 points from the middle of the season and ended the regular season hitting .326 overall and .333 in A-Sun play. She has collected eight doubles and five home runs to go along with 26 runs and 24 RBIs. Robinson hit .343 overall and led the Spartans with a .375 batting average in A-Sun play. She has belted 11 home runs and 14 doubles and ranks in the Top 10 in the A-Sun in batting average (10th, .343), slugging percentage (2nd, .724), doubles (2nd, 14), home runs (6th, 11) and RBIs (3rd, 43).