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Chris Hawkins is in his 14th season as the head coach of the USC Upstate softball program.
Hawkins, a former standout on the USC Upstate baseball team, was inducted into the USC Upstate Hall of Fame in February of 2003.
The winningest coach in the history of the softball program with 454 victories, Hawkins reached the 400-win milestone during the 2006 season. He has compiled a 454-217-1 career record, all spent at USC Upstate, and has coached the Spartans to four consecutive NCAA Tournament berths. He currently ranks in the Top 25 among the winningest coaches in the history of NCAA Division II softball.
Hawkins has guided USC Upstate into four-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament, finishing the 2007 season with a school record 47 wins and a 47-15 record. The year marked the fifth time in the history of the program that the team finished with 40 wins. Hawkins has coached four of the 40-win teams.Three of his players earned All-America honors, the first time in school history the program has produced multiple All-Americans in a single season. He led the Spartans to a 41-18-1 record in 2006.
Hawkins coached what was arguably the best season in the history of the program in 2005 as USC Upstate set a then-school record for wins, claiming a 46-15 record, breaking or tying 31 individual or team school records, and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans advanced to the championship game of the South Atlantic Regional before falling to eventual national runner-up Kennesaw State. Under his guidance, Krista Altom earned First Team All-America honors, four players were named All-Region, four players were named to the Regional All-Tournament team, and two players earned All-Conference honors.
In 2004, Hawkins guided the Spartans to a 38-16 (.704) record and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, his first and the program's first since the 1992 squad advanced to the NCAA Regionals. He led USC Upstate to the final game of day two and eliminated perennial power North Florida from the South Atlantic Regional while placing three players on the South Atlantic Region team and two on the Regional All-Tournament squad.
In 2002, Hawkins led USC Upstate to a 35-10 record, recording the best winning percentage (.778) in his stint at the helm of the program. The 2002 season improved upon a strong 34-12 year in 2001. In 1999, USC Upstate won a then-school record 41 games. Over the past eight seasons, the Spartans have had 15 players named to the Peach Belt All-Conference team, 13 players named to the All-South Region squad, and three All-Americans.
Hawkins began his coaching career as an assistant at the University under Mark Cooke during the 1989 softball season. He has played fast pitch softball and has coordinated several fast pitch softball camps across South Carolina for the past 14 years. He played fast pitch softball during the summers for Ehrhardt Motor Company for 11 years. The team competes in tournaments across the Southeast. In the summers of 1995-1997, they won the state men's fast pitch open division championship and finished eighth in the nation.
Hawkins, who graduated from USC Upstate in 1989 with a bachelor's degree in physical education, was a member of USC Upstate's first varsity baseball team in 1986. He led the NJCAA in strikeouts with 144 in 75 1/3 innings while at Anderson (SC) College in 1985. His career collegiate pitching record at Western Carolina (NC) University, Anderson and USC Upstate was 30-9 with 11 saves. Hawkins was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1985 and again by the Houston Astros in 1987; he played in the Astros' system in 1988.
Hawkins has been active as a coach of summer travel ball. He coached for the Carolina Crush (Orange) 18U team and led the organization's 16U team to the Walnut Creek Classic tournament championship in Raleigh, NC, in the summer of 2003. Prior to his work with the Crush, he was the head coach of the Palmetto Power 18U Fast Pitch Traveling Team, a position he held for five years. The Power finished 5th in the nation in 1998. Hawkins has spoken across the country to coaches and athletes about motivation and work ethic.