|Year:||18th Year at Upstate|
|College:||USC Upstate '89|
Chris Hawkins is in his 19th season as the head coach of the USC Upstate softball program.
To say that Hawkins is synonymous with the softball program and the Athletics Department is an understatement. He has taken the softball program to heights never before seen, including four-straight appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament from 2004-07 and the 2008 regular season Atlantic Sun Conference championship in Upstate’s first season playing on the NCAA Division I level and in the A-Sun. In addition, he is one of the all-time greats to ever play baseball at the University and was inducted into the USC Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame in February of 2003.
The winningest coach in the history of the softball program with 639 victories, Hawkins reached the 600-win milestone with a 7-5 victory over Kennesaw State in the first round of the 2011 A-Sun Tournament. He has compiled a 639-287-1 career record, all spent at USC Upstate. His 639 career victories are the most of any coach in the history of the Upstate Athletics Department.
Last year, Hawkins led the Spartans to 39 wins and a third-place finish in the A-Sun. Three Spartans earned all-conference honors in the A-Sun along with Shellie Robsinon being named the A-Sun Freshman of the Year. Robinson and Cheyenne Griffin were named to the NFCA All-Region team as well.
In 2011, the Spartans won a Division I-era school record 42 games en route to the No. 3 seed in the A-Sun Tournament. The 42 wins was the third-best win total in school history. He tied the Division I era record with three all-conference selections, while coaching the A-Sun’s all-time wins leader in Morgan Childers.
Hawkins led the Spartans to 41 wins in 2010, the first time the program has topped the 40-win plateau on the Division I level. It also marked the fourth-highest win total in the history of the program. In addition, Upstate not only qualified for one of six spots in the A-Sun Tournament in its first year of postseason eligibility, but it advanced to the championship game before settling for second place.
Hawkins led Upstate to a fifth-place finish in the A-Sun in 2009, claiming a 29-16 mark on the year. His Spartans claimed 11 A-Sun victories, giving Upstate a 27-15 career mark in A-Sun play. Two Spartans earned All-ASun honors and Morgan Childers broke the career strikeout and single-season strikeout records at Upstate.
Hawkins may arguably have had better seasons in the past, but the job he turned in in 2008 was simply tremendous. He coached the Spartans to a share of the regular season A-Sun championship, leading the team to a 16-6 conference mark to share the regular season crown with Lipscomb and Florida Gulf Coast. Under his guidance, Upstate won 11 of its final 12 conference games to vault into a share of the title. Along the way, Morgan Childers was named the A-Sun’s Pitcher and Freshman of the Year, marking the only time in conference history a player has earned the two awards in the same season. Three Spartans earned all-conference honors and four players were named to the league’s all-freshman team. Childers was also an NFCA Second Team All-Region selection. The 2008 Spartans finished with a 34-15 overall record and would have been the No. 1 seed in the A-Sun Tournament had Upstate been eligible to participate in the tournament. (Upstate softball is in its final year of reclassification as a “fast-track” sport in the NCAA and will be eligible for postseason conference and NCAA play in 2010).
Hawkins guided Upstate to four-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament from 2004-07, finishing the 2007 season with a school record 47 wins and a 47-15 record. The year marked the fifth time in the history of the program that the team finished with 40 wins. Hawkins has coached four of the 40-win teams. Three of his players earned All-America honors, the first time in school history the program has produced multiple All-Americans in a single season. He also had five all-conference selections in the Peach Belt and the league’s co-Player of the Year. He led the Spartans to a 41-18-1 record in 2006.
Hawkins coached what was arguably the best season in the history of the program on the Division II level in 2005 as Upstate set a then-school record for wins, claiming a 46-15 record, breaking or tying 31 individual or team school records, and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans advanced to the championship game of the South Atlantic Regional before falling to eventual national runner-up Kennesaw State. Under his guidance, Krista Altom earned First Team All-America honors, four players were named All-Region, four players were named to the Regional All-Tournament team, and two players earned All-Conference honors.
In 2004, Hawkins guided the Spartans to a 38-16 (.704) record and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, his first and the program’s first since the 1992 squad advanced to the NCAA Regionals. He led Upstate to the final game of day two and eliminated perennial power North Florida from the South Atlantic Regional while placing three players on the South Atlantic Region team and two on the Regional All-Tournament squad.
In 2002, Hawkins USC Upstate to a 35-10 record, recording the best winning percentage (.778) in his stint at the helm of the program. In the final eight seasons playing on the Division II level, the Spartans had 15 players named to the Peach Belt All-Conference team, 13 players named to the All-South Region squad, and three All-Americans.
Hawkins began his coaching career as an assistant at Upstate under Mark Cooke during the 1989 softball season. He has played fast pitch softball and has coordinated several fast pitch softball camps across South Carolina. He played fast pitch softball during the summers for Ehrhardt Motor Company for 11 years. The team competed in tournaments across the Southeast. In the summers of 1995-1997, they won the state men’s fast pitch open division championship and finished eighth in the nation.
Hawkins, who graduated from Upstate in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, was a member of Upstate’s first varsity baseball team in 1986. He led the NJCAA in strikeouts with 144 in 75 1/3 innings while at Anderson (S.C.) College in 1985. His career collegiate pitching record at Western Carolina (N.C.) University, Anderson and USC Upstate was 30-9 with 11 saves. Hawkins was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1985 and again by the Houston Astros in 1987; he played in the Astros’ system in 1988.
Hawkins was active as a coach of summer travel ball. He coached for the Carolina Crush (Orange), Palmetto Power and Carolina Elite organizations, leading various teams to state championships and Top 10 finishes in national tournaments.
As interim volleyball coach in 1994, Hawkins led Upstate to a 38-4 record and a second consecutive Peach Belt Conference title.
A native of Seneca, S.C., Hawkins and his wife, Anje, live in Moore with their sons; Kyle, Brooks, and Ryan.
Chris Hawkins Coaching History
|ATLANTIC SUN RECORD|
|NCAA Division II||2004|
|NCAA Division II||2005|
|NCAA Division II||2006|
|NCAA Division II||2007|
|Atlantic Sun Conference
|100th||vs. USC Aiken 4-2
|200th||vs. Longwood 6-1
|300th||vs. USC Aiken 10-4
|400th||at Mars Hill 4-1
|500th||vs. Furman 7-4
||vs. Kennesaw State 7-5||5-12-11|