Fort Myers, Fla. – A-Sun Freshman of the Year and first team all-conference selection Karla Beasley drove in five runs on a triple and a double and the top-seeded USC Upstate softball team opened the 2015 A-Sun Tournament with a 13-1 victory over 4th-seeded North Florida Thursday afternoon at the FGCU Softball Complex.
Upstate improved to 41-8 on the year and advances to play #2-seed Lipscomb at 12:30 p.m. Friday in the winner’s bracket title game to determine the first participant on Championship Saturday. UNF fell to 31-27 and plays #6-seed Stetson in the second elimination game of the tournament Thursday evening at 5:30.
“The 10-day layoff made us rusty offensively and pitching. We were a little off,” said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. “As the game got going, we started getting a rhythm and our timing came back. It was good to get a game under our belts and get the win. I am really proud of Karla and Lexi. Karla stepped up and got big hits with people on base. We call it THE hit and she did it twice. Lexi held a team that scored 12 runs yesterday to just four hits today.”
The game started off with a standout defensive play by Kaitlyn Jaeger at second to set the tone early. UNF leadoff hitter Kelly Wilson lifted a short pop fly to shallow right center. Jaeger ranged back and made an over-the-shoulder catch that resulted with her spinning to the ground to retire Wilson.
Following Jaeger’s play in the top of the inning, Upstate looked to make a statement at the plate in the bottom. The Spartans loaded the bases with two outs on three walks from UNF starter Kaylie Wallace. Dana Landers came through and poked a single to right field to score two Spartans as Upstate opened a 2-0 lead.
Upstate padded its lead with four runs in the bottom of the second. After loading the bases with two outs, Wallace walked Kendall Settlemyre as the Spartans opened a 3-0 lead. The walk also chased Wallace from the game with Kayla Goff coming in to pitch for North Florida. A-Sun Freshman of the Year Karla Beasley followed with a three-run triple to right to give the Spartans a 6-0 lead.
Upstate kept it going in the third and scored seven runs to open a 13-0 lead. Cheyenne Griffin led off the inning with a walk. After two bunt singles, the second by Lindsey Greeson that drove in a run, the Spartan bats erupted again. Hayley Reinfeld drove in a run on a sacrifice fly. Settlemyre drove in a run on a single to right, Beasley lifted a two-run double to right center and Griffin belted a double off the wall in center to plate two to do the damage. The seven runs scored by the Spartans tied the A-Sun Tournament record for runs in an inning.
Upstate starter Lexi Shubert pitched out of jams in the second and third, but otherwise in control throughout the five-inning outing. The Ospreys put runners on first and second after a walk and an error in the infield in the second. However, Shubert struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning and keep the Spartans on top, 2-0. The Ospreys had runners on second and third with two outs in the third, but Shubert got a fly out to left to end the threat and keep UNF off the board. North Florida finally cracked the scoreboard in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by Stacey McClelland.
Despite the threats in the second and third and the sacrifice fly in the fifth, Shubert turned in a strong effort. She allowed just four hits and struck out eight to improve to 31-5 on the year with the win. Wallace took the loss and fell to 14-12. Beasley led the Spartans at the plate with two hits and five RBIs. Settlemyre, Landers and Griffin each drove in a pair of runs.
- Upstate is now 2-0 against North Florida in the A-Sun Tournament.
- Upstate’s seven runs in the third inning ties the A-Sun Tournament record for most runs in an inning.
- Upstate’s 13 runs were the second-most scored in an A-Sun Tournament game behind the 14 scored by Stetson against Florida Gulf Coast in 2013.
- Upstate is 4-4 all-time against Lipscomb in A-Sun Tournament play.