Upstate Voted Second in A-Sun Softball Preseason Poll, Shubert Unanimous Preseason Pitcher of the Year
Macon, Ga. – USC Upstate junior pitcher Lexi Shubert is a unanimous selection for the A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year while the Spartan softball team has been predicted to finish second by the league coaches in the annual Preseason Softball Poll, it was announced this afternoon by the conference office.
Upstate earned one first-place vote and 41 total points in the preseason poll for the second place prediction. The Spartans are coming off their third straight appearance in an NCAA Regional last season after going 44-10 overall and 18-2 in the A-Sun. Upstate also captured both the A-Sun Regular Season and Tournament Championships, while having a school record 14 All-Conference selections and four postseason award winners.
Lipscomb has been picked to win the league this season after garnering 48 points with six first-place votes. Kennesaw State is third with 31 points followed by Stetson (4th, 25 points) and North Florida (5th, 19 points). Florida Gulf Coast and Jacksonville round out the preseason poll in a tie for sixth at 16 points.
Shubert was last season’s A-Sun Pitcher of the Year and Second Team NFCA All-Region selection after breaking the Spartans single-season record with 38 starts and 33 complete games, while tying the school mark with 34 wins. She received unanimous First Team All-Conference accolades and was named the A-Sun Tournament MVP. Shubert was recognized on the academic side by being voted the A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She finished the season tied for second nationally in wins, and ranked in the top 40 in shutouts, ERA, walks allowed per game and hits allowed per game. Shubert led the A-Sun in wins, games started, appearances, innings pitched, strikeouts and ERA. She tossed her first collegiate no-hitter in a six-inning complete game against Northern Kentucky. For the season, Shubert went 34-7 with a 1.67 ERA, allowed 72 runs (58 earned) and struck out 225 in 243.0 innings pitched.
Karla Beasley joined Shubert on the Preseason All-Conference Team at the utility/designated player position. The sophomore was selected as the A-Sun Freshman of the Year last season after finishing sixth in the conference in hitting with a .396 batting average. Beasley earned First Team All-Conference, All-Freshman Team and All-Tournament Team honors as she started in 52 games last year primarily as the designated player. She ranked second in the conference with 50 RBI and tied for sixth with 12 home runs. Beasley compiled 19 multi-hit games and 11 multi-RBI outings.
The Spartans swept the preseason awards from the website CollegeSportsMadness.com and had three players named Preseason All-Conference. Shubert was named the Preseason Pitcher of the Year, Beasley the Preseason Field Player of the Year, Kristen Wright the Preseason Freshman of the Year and Chris Hawkins the Preseason Coach of the Year. Shubert and Beasley were named Preseason First Team All-Conference, while Ryan Rector was placed on the Second Team.
Upstate returns eight players from last season’s team while having to replace nine starters. A total of 13 newcomers are joining the team for the 2016 campaign.
The Spartans open their season on Thursday, Feb. 11 with a doubleheader at Gardner-Webb beginning at 2 p.m.
Preseason Softball Coaches Poll
Pl. Team (1st place votes) Points
1. Lipscomb (6) 48
2. USC Upstate (1) 41
3. Kennesaw State 31
4. Stetson 25
5. North Florida 19
6. FGCU 16
Preseason Atlantic Sun All-Conference Team
Lexi Shubert, P, USC Upstate*
Tanner Sanders, P, Lipscomb
Courtney Sutter, C, Kennesaw State
Stacy McClelland, INF, Northj Florida*
Megan Veringa, INF, Kennesaw State*
Kayla Drury, INF, Stetson
Jessie Tenbroeck, INF, Stetson
Brittany Elmore, OF, Lipscomb*
Shelby Duncan, OF, North Florida*
Jazz Vasquez, OF, Stetson
Karla Beasley, UTIL/DP, USC Upstate
* – Denotes a unanimous selection to the all-conference team
Preseason Player of the Year: Stacy McClelland, North Florida
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Brittany Hawn, Stetson
Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Lexi Shubert, USC Upstate^
^ – Denotes unanimous selection for award