With their 7-5 win against Kennesaw State, USC Upstate not only advanced to the next round of the 2011 Atlantic Sun Softball Championship but also sent their head coach Chris Hawkins packing for Las Vegas in December.
The victory at Cyrill Stadium gave Hawkins his 600th victory in his 17-year career and earns him recognition at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Convention for his milestone at the end of the year.
“I have been here for 17 years and I’ve been through a lot of battles and wars and won some and lost some, but to get to 600 and still be able to walk and breathe is a good feeling and I couldn’t have done it without everyone as this program and institution,” Hawkins stated of his accomplishment.
For Hawkins, the timing of the win accumulation is more important as it advances the Spartans to a rematch with Lipscomb, who swept Upstate in the regular season, and keeps the Spartans alive for another game.
“It’s a great feeling to go to sleep tonight knowing that if we lose our next game we are still in the tournament and it’s great for our program because we are trying to build here at USC Upstate and this is a big stepping stone for us.”
Not only did Hawkins reach 600 wins, but the Spartans claimed their 42nd win of the season, a program record, just ahead of last year’s mark of 41. For an institution that made the jump to Division I in 2007, USC Upstate has already accomplished a lot with a share of the 2008 A-Sun Regular Season title and then taking runner-up at last year’s A-Sun Championship.
“In Division II we were always up there competing and I knew when we went to Division I any little mistake would hurt us, but we changed our program philosophy in what we were trying to accomplish and we really work hard on defense and luckily we have the pitching that kept us in games,” Hawkins said of the transition.
Now the Spartans’ squad stands three wins away from an A-Sun Championship title and a trip of the their own to a NCAA Regional.