Having already signed nine players during the early signing period last November, USC Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins has added four transfers to the class with three coming from the junior college ranks and another from Florida State.
Transferring and signing to play at Upstate are Amy Szymanowski from Florida State, Holly McKinnon and Lindsay O’Steen from the College of Central Florida and Abbie Millete from Seminole State College. Szymanowksi will have one year of eligibility remaining, while McKinnon, O’Steen and Millete will have two.
Upstate is coming off a tremendous season in 2015 when the Spartans earned their third consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament and won both the A-Sun regular season and tournament championships. However, the Spartans return just eight players from the team that was led by 10 seniors who exhausted their eligibility in 2015, leaving the 2016 squad with a lot of holes to fill. The addition of the four transfers is expected to provide the Spartans with some veteran leadership on a team that prior to their signing, was set to have nine freshmen, six sophomores and two juniors. Only reigning A-Sun Pitcher of the Year Lexi Shubert, reigning A-Sun Freshman of the Year Karla Beasley and outfielder Ryan Rector have seen significant playing time among the returning players.
Szymanowksi played for the Seminoles in 2015 after transferring to Florida State from the College of Central Florida where she spent the first two years of her college career. She was the Mid-Florida Conference Player of the Year and a NJCAA First Team All-American at Central Florida in 2014. McKinnon was the Mid-Florida Conference Pitcher of the Year and a NJCAA First Team All-American in 2015 after transferring to the school from South Alabama after the 2014 season. O’Steen was a Mid-Florida Conference First Team All-Conference selection in 2015, while Millete was a two-time all-conference selection in the Mid-Florida Conference.
“I am excited to have all four of the transfers come into our program.” said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins, who secured his second consecutive A-Sun Coach of the Year honor in 2015. “We have 15 players who will either be a freshman or sophomore on our team next year. The addition of Amy, Holly, Lindsay and Abbie should provide our team with experience and leadership, which is something we had to address after losing 10 seniors from last year’s team. All four have accomplished backgrounds and I look forward to them being a part of our program and carrying on the tradition we have built at Upstate.”
Holly McKinnon | P | Ocala, Fla. | College of Central Florida | North Marion HS
McKinnon played a large part in the success of the College of Central Florida in 2015. She was named the Mid-Florida Conference Pitcher of the Year and a JUCO All-American in leading the Patriots to a No. 2 national ranking. She was 28-3 with a 1.08 ERA in 35 appearances and 30 starts. She also struck out 190 batters in 200 1/3 innings of work. She was a three-time state player of the week selection and was named the national player of the week one time during the season. She spent her freshman season at South Alabama where she made three starts for the Jaguars. She finished 2-1 with 15 strikeouts. She was a standout in high school and travel ball as well. She led the North Marion High School squad to two consecutive district championships as a junior and senior. She was named the Marion County Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013 and finished her senior season with a 21-5 record, 0.43 ERA and 260 strikeouts in 164 innings of work. She also hit .415 with nine doubles, five home runs and 37 RBIs. She played travel ball for Team North Florida and helped lead the squad to the ASA U18 national title.
Abbie Millete | C/OF | Jacksonville, Fla. | Seminole State College | Mandarin HS
Millette had a successful junior college career at Seminole State College after tremendous prep career at Mandarin High School. She was a second team All-Mid-Florida Conference selection as a freshman in 2014. She earned first team all-conference and all-state honors as a sophomore in 2015 after hitting .306 and helping the Raiders finish with a 51-9 record. She ranked second on the team with 49 RBIs and 14 doubles, while scoring 23 runs and hitting four home runs. She also turned in a strong performance in the classroom and was named an Academic All-American in 2014 and 2015. She had a standout prep career as well at Mandarin. She was a two-time 8A all-state selection and also earned first team all-First Coast and all-conference honors twice. She led Mandarin to the state semifinals as a junior in 2012, regional finals in 2013 and 6A regional finals in 2011. She also helped the squad to three Gateway Conference Championships. A standout in the classroom, she was a member of the National Honor Society as well. She played travel ball for the Florida Storm from 2010-13 and Tsunami Gold from 2008-10.
Lindsay O’Steen | P/UTL | Mayo, Fla. | College of Central Florida | Lafayette HS
O’Steen turned in a solid junior college career at the College of Central Florida the past two seasons. She was a first team All-Mid-Florida Conference selection as a sophomore in 2015 after helping lead the Patriots to their first-ever conference championship and a No. 2 national ranking. She hit .298 with nine doubles, six home runs, 34 RBIs and 46 runs. She also stole 15 bases. She had a standout season as well as a freshman. She helped lead the Patriots to the championship game of the NJCAA National Tournament and earned all-tournament honors. She finished the season with a .377 batting average and hit a team-best 17 doubles to go along with six home runs, 33 RBIs, 40 runs and seven stolen bases. She was a standout athlete at Lafayette High School where she lettered five times in both softball and volleyball. She hit .450 with eight home runs and 46 RBIs as a senior in 2012. She helped lead Lafayette to the 1A state championship as a junior in 2012 and runner-up in 2013. She also was a member of the Lafayette squad that was runner-up in the 2A state tournament in 2010. She was named the Small School Athlete of the Year by the Gainesville Sun as a junior and senior and also earned several player of the year honors in volleyball. She was a standout in the classroom as a member of the Beta Club.
Amy Szymanowski | C | Land O’Lakes, Fla | Florida State | Sunlake HS
Syzmanowski comes to Upstate after spending her junior year at Florida State in 2014-15. She played in 31 games for the Seminoles, 19 as a starter at either designated player or catcher. She finished the season with three home runs, two doubles, 11 RBIs and nine runs. She had a standout junior college career at the College of Central Florida prior to enrolling at Florida State. She was a two-time NFCA All-American, earning first team honors in 2014 and second team recognition as a freshman in 2013. She was named the Catcher of the Year as a sophomore after hitting .381 with 22 home runs, 59 RBIs and 65 runs en route to leading the Patriots to the championships game of the NJCAA National Tournament. She set a national tournament record with four home runs and was named to the all-tournament team. She hit .343 with 16 home runs and 47 RBIs as a freshman. She finished her career as Central Florida’s single-season and career home run leader, was a two-time first team All-Mid-Florida Conference selection and was named the player of the year in the Mid-Florida Conference in 2014. She was also a standout at Sunlake High School. She hit .468 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 14 games as a senior. In addition to playing softball, she also played volleyball, basketball and was a member of the cheerleading squad. A standout student as well, she was named the Mid-Florida Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2014 and graduated from Central Florida with honors as a Magna Cum Laude student.
McKinnon, Millete, O’Steen and Szymanowski join incoming freshmen Brttany Case (Denham Springs, La.), Caley Chappel (Ocala, Fla.), Ansley Gilstrap (Blythewood, S.C.), Bailey Hoch (Fleming Island, Fla.), Kayla Hussey (Crawfordville, Fla.), Megan Obier (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), Sam Spears (Bartow, Fla.), Kori Wancheck (Rock Hill, S.C.) and Kristen Wright (Lake Worth, Fla.) to make up Upstate’s 13-woman recruiting class.