Spartans Enter NCAA Tournament with Nation’s Top Defense
|In a battle of shaving cream wills, whioch started with Lindsey Greeson getting the first blow during head coach Chris Hawkins' interview on ESPN3 after winning the A-Sun Tournament, Hawkins responded at practice Monday. Watch the Youtube video here.|
Spartanburg, S.C. – When the USC Upstate softball team takes the field against Western Kentucky Friday to open the Tuscaloosa Regional in the NCAA Tournament, it will do so as the nation's top-ranked defense after the NCAA released its latest statistical ranking.
Upstate committed just one error in five games at the A-Sun Tournament and owns a .983 fielding percentage to lead the nation. Upstate leads No. 2 Florida and No. 16 UCLA by .003 heading into this weekend's tournament action.
In addition to its fielding percentage lead, Upstate ranks in the Top 20 in six total categories, including batting average (10th, .331), win/loss percentage (10th, .804), doubles per game (15th, 1.53), scoring (16th, 6.29) and slugging percentage (16th, .524).
Upstate is ranked 44th in the final NCAA RPI prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans have now been ranked in the Top 50 in the PRI for seven consecutive weeks, peaking at No. 37 for two weeks earlier this year. Coming off winning the A-Sun Tournament last weekend, Upstate remained the top-ranked team in the A-Sun and is followed by Lipscomb (No. 49), North Florida (No. 52), Florida Gulf Coast (No. 56), Kennesaw State (No. 58), Jacksonville (No. 71) and Stetson (No. 85), giving the A-Sun seven teams in the Top 100.
Upstate will begin play in the Tuscaloosa Regional hosted by defending national champion and national No. 10 seed Alabama this Friday against Western Kentucky at 3:30 p.m. Central, 4:30 p.m. Eastern time at Rhoads Stadium. The winner of that game will take on the winner of Friday's game between Alabama and Jacksonville State, while the two losing teams in the first round will battle in the regional's first elimination game on Saturday.