Softball Opens With Scrimmage Against Tennessee

Jan. 10, 2005

ORLANDO, Fla. - The UCF softball team will start the 2005 season with a nine-inning exhibition game against Tennessee on Tuesday afternoon at the UCF Softball Complex. Head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie enters her fourth season with the program, and has tallied a 125-71 mark.

UCF is coming off a 42-21 season, and a second place finish in the Atlantic Sun conference. The Knights return 11 letterwinners from a season ago headlined by shortstop Stephanie Best and centerfielder Jania Shinhoster.

Best was named A-Sun Player of the Year for the second straight season coming off another monster offensive season. The South Carolina native hit .442, good enough for seventh nationally. She led the A-Sun in virtually every offensive category, and was third in the nation with a .850 slugging percentage. Best was voted to the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Southeast Region Second Team, and was also named to the All-District Academic Team.

Shinhoster has started every game in program history at center field. For the second year in a row, she was named to the All-Conference First Team hitting .339 with ten homers and 41 RBI's. Shinhoster was also second on the team swiping 16 stolen bases in 19 attempts, and only committed one error defensively.

Designated player Amber Lamb and leftfielder Cici Alvarez also return for their sophomore campaign. Lamb was named A-Sun Freshman of the Year after hitting .391 in conference play, and was fourth in league play racking up 25 hits. Alvarez joined Best and Shinhoster on the All-Conference First Team after hitting .308 last season. The McArthur High product led UCF with 17 stolen bases and 24 sacrifice hits.

Tennessee was 56-16, won the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division, and was ranked 16th in the nation. The Lady Vols were knocked out of the NCAA Regionals by Illinois-Chicago a season ago.

Pitcher Monica Abbot returns to Knoxville being dubbed SEC Pitcher of the Year, and garnering a spot on the All-American First Team in just her freshman season. Abbott compiled a 45-10 record, and led the nation with 582 strikeouts. The 45 wins and 582 strikeouts are NCAA records for a freshman. She fired 24 complete game shutouts, and four no-hitters, including a perfect game against Hawaii.

On offense, UT returns four players that hit over .300 a season ago. Pacing the group is third basemen Kristi Durant who hit for a .350 average, and led the team with 71 hits. The Lady Vols will have to replace the pop in the line-up as Amber Rhinehart and Angela Brewer graduated, and accounted for 18 of the team's 25 home runs. First pitch is slated for 1pm. Admission is free for everyone. The two teams will match-up in the regular season in the Clearwater Invitational at Eddie C. Moore Complex on February 4th. The Knights open the regular season with a doubleheader at Bethune-Cookman on January 29th.

Parking for the exhibition game will be at the North Parking Garage located at the intersection of Gemini Blvd and Orion Blvd. To park in the garage enter the campus at University Blvd and Alafaya Trail. Turn right at Gemini Blvd, and proceed around the southern portion of campus. The garage will be on the left-hand side of Gemini Blvd at the intersection of Gemini and Orion.

There is also parking available in the lot located behind the UCF Arena. The softball field is located down the hill from the baseball field.