Cream shortening; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Dissolve soda in buttermilk, stirring well. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Combine dates and pecans; dredge in remaining 1/2 cup flour, and fold into batter.
Spoon batter into greased muffin pans, filling only two-thirds full. Bake at 375° for 12 to 14 minutes or until cupcakes test done. Spoon Orange Syrup over cupcakes.