Cullowhee, N.C. – USC Upstate head softball coach Chris Hawkins reached a career coaching milestone on Wednesday by recording his 800th victory as the Spartans split a doubleheader with the Western Carolina Catamounts from the Catamount Softball Complex.
Upstate currently sits at 29-11 on the season while Western Carolina is 26-13.
“I have been very fortunate to be at a great university for many years and to have such great players along the way,” said Hawkins. “Coach (Bryan) Pack and Coach (Kenzie) Roark have been very instrumental in our success as well. To have a job that is my hobby is awesome. It has been a fun ride.”
The Spartans step back into conference play this weekend, Apr. 9-10, hosting Jacksonville in a three-game series at Cyrill Stadium.
Game 1 – USC Upstate 11, Western Carolina 12 (9)
Upstate tied a season-high with four home runs, but the Catamounts rallied from six runs down to defeat the Spartans 12-11 in nine innings during the first game of the doubleheader.
Taylor Sigmon (9-7) earned the win in relief tossing 3.0 scoreless innings while allowing no walks and striking out five. Holly McKinnon (17-6) suffered the loss after giving up six runs (four earned) on five hits, five walks and two strikeouts in 4.2 innings of work.
Brittany Case finished the game 3-for-4 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored, while Megan Obier also had three RBI. Kori Wancheck went 2-for-3 with three runs. Kayla Hussey and Tarynn Tirpak both contributed two RBI.
Madison Armstrong recorded three hits and four RBI for Western Carolina, and Karley Harkey also posted four RBI.
The Catamounts took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first but Case responded in the second with a three-run home run, her third of the season, to put the Spartans ahead 3-2. Upstate extended its lead to 8-2 in the third after plating five runs as Hussey and Obier both homered in the inning. Hussey started things with her first career homer on a two-run blast and Obier followed with a three-run home run three batters later. Western Carolina answered back with four runs in its half of the third to make the score 8-6.
The teams traded three runs each in the fourth and fifth innings, as both collected two in the fourth and one in the fifth. Tirpark hit her first career home run in the fourth for the Spartans two runs and Wancheck drew a bases loaded walk in the fifth. Upstate led 11-9 heading to the sixth inning.
The Catamounts tied the game 11-11 in the bottom of the sixth on a two-RBI single up the middle by Armstrong. Armstrong would win the game for Western Carolina in the ninth on her leadoff single to center field, giving the Catamounts the 12-11 victory. Kara Salvo scored the game-winning run after being placed on second base to begin the ninth.
Game 2 – USC Upstate 3, Western Carolina 0
Lexi Shubert pitched her second complete game shutout of the season as the Spartans earned a 3-0 victory in game two for the doubleheader split.
Shubert (4-3) limited the Catamounts to just three hits over her 7.0 innings of work, and surrendered just one walk and struck out six. Sigmon (9-8) received the loss after also pitching 7.0 innings and gave up three runs on nine hits, three walks and had 12 strikeouts.
Hussey and Ryan Rector led the Upstate offense with two hits apiece. Case, Rector and Amy Szymanowski all drove in one run. Three different Western Carolina players had one hit each.
Case put the Spartans ahead 1-0 in the top of the third on her RBI double to the right center field gap. Kristen Wright scored from second after entering the game to pinch-run for Hussey, who started the frame with a single.
Rector and Szymanowski would give Upstate a 3-0 advantage following a two-run fifth inning. Rector plated Obier for the first run of the inning on her RBI single to right field, and Szymanowski also went to the right side as her RBI single scored Rector.