Friday, May 9, 2014

#ASunSB Making a Statement in 2014: In Search of Multi Bid Year

Atlantic Sun Softball is trying to make a name for itself this year as the league currently has four teams ranked in the top-50 in RPI and USC Upstate has a national rank of No. 21.

Certainly standing out as one of the best mid major conferences in softball the league has combined for 140 victories over teams that are currently ranked in the top-125 in RPI.

The A-Sun has four teams ranked in the top-50 in RPI and six teams in the top-100. Only four conferences have more than six teams in the top-100 with the SEC (13), Big Ten (9), Pac-12 (9) and ACC (7).

"These six teams in this tournament on any day can go out and beat anybody. Every inning is a battle and in order to stay in this tournament you have to be at the top of your game." Mercer Coach Stephanie Defeo stated after the fourth-seeded Bears defeated sixth –seeded FGCU to earn a spot in the A-Sun Championship Final.

The league was not only strong this season, it was well rounded as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the championship fell in thrilling fashion. This marks the first time in A-Sun Championship history that the No. 1 or No. 2 seed won’t be making an appearance in the championship final.

Third-seeded Stetson picked up a spot in the championship final as they have traveled the bracket without a loss.

“You’ve got some good coaches in this league that come from good schools and they are really getting the job done,” Stetson’s Frank Griffin said. “Across the league coaches are making this one of the top-six conferences in the country.”

USC Upstate came into the A-Sun Championship with a 22-2 record in league play and the best ERA in the country. The Spartans were heavy favorites as they rank 21st nationally and boast the best RPI in the league at 28th.

“Our conference is tough top to bottom and I think the A-Sun Tournament has shown just that. We have talked about having six teams being ranked in the Top 100 all year long, but we have had two others who have been on the brink of breaking into the Top 100 as well. That type of strength is very impressive for our conference.” Upstate’s Chris Hawkins explained.

The Spartans fell to Mercer in their first game of the A-Sun Championship and later fell to FGCU in an elimination game but still hold a strong enough resume to keep people talking about their at large possibilities.

“Playing in this conference is tough. We have played a lot of non-conference games against some pretty good teams, teams ranked pretty high in the RPI. I can tell you our conference as a whole right there with almost every conference in the country. I think the teams that represent our conference in the NCAA will do well because we have had to play each other all year long.” Hawkins said.

As the A-Sun Championship is set for Saturday several eyes will be on the game on ESPN3, but you can also be sure that the NCAA Championship selection show on Sunday will have everybody's attention as the Atlantic Sun is in search for its first multi bid year...and it is more than possible.

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