A-Sun Heavyweights to Duel in Three-Game Set as @FGCU_Softball Hosts USC Upstate
Friday, April 19, 2013 | by Andrew Piper (@ADPiper7)
FGCU can clinch a spot in the A-Sun Tournament with a sweep of USC Upstate. (Photo by Dennis Snyder)
FGCU can clinch a spot in the A-Sun Tournament with a sweep of USC Upstate. (Photo by Dennis Snyder)
USC Upstate (36-6, 16-4 A-Sun)
FGCU (31-15, 12-6 A-Sun)
4/20/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 202
USC Upstate10100260
Win: OWEN (8-6) 5.062211
Loss: ALEXANDER (15-3) 3.163310
BARNES (UPST) 322202

Date: April 20-21, 2013
City: Fort Myers, Fla.
Site: FGCU Softball Complex
Live Stats: FGCUAthletics.com
Twitter: @FGCU_Softball | @ADPiper7
Hashtags: #EaglePride / #ASunSB / #WingsUp
Current Streak: Won 3
At Home: 17-6
All-Time vs. USC Upstate: 5-5
Game Times: Saturday, April 20 (DH) – 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. | Sunday, April 21 – 2 p.m.

FORT MYERS, Fla. – With the conclusion of the 2013 regular season just a couple week away, A-Sun teams are looking to solidify their places atop the league standings and the FGCU softball team is in the mix after a three-game sweep of Jacksonville (Apr. 13-14). The Eagles will now play host to a USC Upstate squad that currently sits atop the conference standings for a trio of contests at the FGCU Softball Complex on April 20 and 21.

The three-game set will begin with a doubleheader on Saturday, April 20, with game one to begin at 2 p.m. The final game of the series is set to get underway at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 21.

With just a trio of regular season series remaining on the 2013 slate, FGCU has posted a 30-15 record this season while going 11-6 against A-Sun competition. Ranked No. 24 in the Apr. 9 edition of the top 25, USC Upstate is 36-5 overall with a 16-3 mark in league play and unranked after having dropped two of three to Lipscomb (Apr. 13-14), snapping a 14-game win streak, before coming out victorious in a mid-week tilt with SEC member Georgia (Apr. 17).

The Eagles have protected their home field in 2013 just as they have done since the softball program was founded in 2002. FGCU is 17-6 in 2013 at the FGCU Softball Complex, with at one point having won 11 straight this season at home and the Green and Blue are 242-60 all-time on their home field.

Both FGCU and USC Upstate are at the top of multiple A-Sun statistical categories, both offensively and defensively. The Eagles lead the league in home runs (47), triples (16), walks (211) and fielding double plays (25). A combination of the aforementioned categories has helped the Green and Blue keep pace with opponents when pitching struggles.

Strong offensive numbers from junior catcher Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) have her ranking fifth in the country in RBI and tied for 10th in home runs. Zgrabik will look to find success against the Spartans pitching staff as the 2013 Preseason A-Sun Player of the Year leads the conference in home runs (15), while ranking second in RBI (55) and third in slugging percentage (.722).

Sophomore outfielder Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) has starred for FGCU during conference play by posting a .450 batting average, six doubles, 49 total bases, a .817 slugging percentage and a .514 on-base percentage, all of which are team-best figures. Carpenter has started all 17 A-Sun contests and has been a threat at the plate and on the base paths for the Eagles, while also starring on defense in left field.

Selected to finish third in the 2013 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the Spartans are exceeding expectations as they currently sit atop the A-Sun standings with the A-Sun Championships set to begin on May 8.

With a strong all-around lineup, USC Upstate has collected two A-Sun Player of the Week honors and one A-Sun Pitcher of the Week honor thus far this season. FGCU has also collected weekly conference awards as three Eagles have been named A-Sun Player of the Week in 2013.

One matchup to focus on over the course of the three-game set will be the number of walks the USC Upstate pitchers allow the FGCU batters to draw. The Eagles rank first in the A-Sun in walks (211), while the Spartans have allowed the lowest number of walks among A-Sun teams (77). If FGCU is able to continue drawing walks, the pitch count of USC Upstate pitchers will increase faster than they are used to which may work to the benefit of the Green and Blue.

Touting a high-powered offense that leads the A-Sun in multiple offensive categories, the Spartans have recorded an eight-run rule victory in 14 contests this season, 12 of which ended after five innings of play. USC Upstate leads the league in batting average (.344), slugging percentage (.541), on-base percentage (.402), and runs scored (283) on the offensive side, while topping the conference ranks in ERA (1.93) and opposing batting average (.202) on the defensive side of the ball.

The Eagles and Spartans have squared off 10 times in the history of the programs, with the all-time series currently tied as both sides have won five games. At the conclusion of the three upcoming weekend contests, there will be a definite series leader at least until the two teams meet again down the road. FGCU and USC Upstate last met on April 21, 2012 in a twin billing that the two teams split with the Spartans taking game one, 2-1, followed by a Green and Blue victory by a score of 8-6. The Eagles have won three of the last four meetings between the two teams, dating back to the 2011 season.

For tickets, visit www.FGCUATHLETICS.com/tickets online or call the FGCU ticket office at 239-590-7145. Tickets are also available for purchase upon entrance to the FGCU Softball Complex.

In-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Softball), results and a recap from the day’s action will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.