The youth movement is working for the USC Upstate Spartans.
The No. 2-seed Spartans beat No. 6 seed Stetson 5-1 Thursday afternoon in the second day of the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship at Draper Diamond on the Lipscomb University campus.
Spartans coach Chris Hawkins’ starting lineup has one junior and one senior. Despite the youth movement his Spartans have been successful.
“Baby sit in the fall, win in the spring,” Hawkins said. “I have done a lot of that. I have taught them how to play softball. When things are going well we are very good.
“This game was a good example of playing softball. We bunted a runner over when we had to. We squeezed on the pitches we needed to. We were patient in the count the last few innings. Those were things they couldn’t do when they got here.”
Jamie Ujvari, the A-Sun Freshman Player of the Year, went the distance for the
Spartans. She gave up four hits and struck out six. She did not walk a batter.
“It was definitely good to win my first tournament game,” Ujvari said. “I feel confident in myself out there as a freshman because I have such a great team behind me.”
Ujvari, 18-3, has felt comfortable in the circle all season. She credits the overall youth of the team for giving her a unique comfort zone.
“We are a young team, but we are very talented,” Ujvari said. “We get along great. It is a great group of girls. I couldn’t be on a better team than this.”
Hawkins had no doubts Ujvari could be successful in her tournament debut.
“Jamie has more confidence than our whole team combined,” Hawkins said. “That is what you need out there. I haven’t had that since Morgan Childers was here.
“She just takes the ball and goes. Any time I need her she is going to win for us. That is something I am trying to instill in all of our players.”
The Spartans managed six hits. Sophomore third baseman Kendall Settlemyre and sophomore center fielder Shellie Robinson each had a pair of hits and an RBI for the
Spartans. Robinson had the big hit of the day, a triple to open the three-run sixth.
Junior Meredith Barnes, a junior, connected for the other two hit, one a double that was the first hit of the game for the Spartans.
Hawkins had been concerned how his team would perform after being off for two weeks due to games being cancelled due to weather issues.
“They have really worked hard,” Hawkins said. “I was just glad to get some of the rust off.
“We have been through some battles. We have had some bad times of late. We kind of fell on our face at the end of the season. We had to rebound. I knew this game was going to be a little bit of a struggle, but we got through it. We are hopefully going to keep getting better.”