May 10, 2008
Houston, Texas (www.ucfathletics.com) - The No. 2 seed UCF softball team used a two-run third inning and a two-hit shutout performance by Allison Kime (Brandon, Fla.) to defeat UTEP in the Conference USA Softball Championship Friday afternoon to earn a spot in the league-tournament championship game Saturday at 2:36 p.m. EST against host No. 1 Houston. The game will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports Network.
The winner of the C-USA Softball Championship will received the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
The top-seeded Cougars used a pair of home runs in the third inning Friday night to take a 5-1 win from East Carolina and move into the championship game for the second-consecutive season.
Houston is led by senior hurler Angel Shamblin, who is 32-2 on the season and holds a 0.58 ERA in 229.2 innings of work. The C-USA Pitcher of the Year and Top-10 finalist for the National Player of the Year award is 2-0 in the C-USA Championship and 1-0 this season when facing the Knights.
Last Time Out vs. Houston
Rain damped the league series between the two teams in their last meeting, as they only were able to complete two games in Orlando, splitting the series. In game one, Houston used a three-run seventh inning to defeat the Knights, 5-1, before rain put a halt to game two following the top-half of the first inning. After resuming play on Sunday, the Black and Gold plated five runs in the first inning to hold on for a 5-4 win over the Cougars and handed the visitors their first C-USA loss.
Securing Another First
UCF's appearance in the championship game Saturday will mark the first time in program history that it has made it to the finals of the C-USA Softball Championship, falling one run short of the feat in 2007. After failing to make the tournament in their first season in the league in 2006, the Knights made a run at the conference-tournament crown last season, before falling to East Carolina, 1-0, in 12 innings in the semi-final contest.
At Cougar Stadium
UCF holds a 2-3 record when playing at the Cougar Softball Stadium after its pair of wins in the C-USA Championship. Previous to this season, the Knights fell to Houston in all three games of the C-USA series at the stadium. But, the Knights hold a 5-2 record when playing in the C-USA Softball Championship, defeating Marshall, Tulsa and East Carolina while hosting the tournament in 2007 at the UCF Softball Complex.
Closing in on Her Former Mark
Allison Kime needs only six more strikeouts to match her total Ks from last season's C-USA Championship. The senior posted 23 strikeouts during the 2007 event, but hit the mark over five games. Her 8.5 strikeouts-per-game in this season's tournament are closing in on almost double of her 4.6 Ks-per-game average last year. The hurler could possibly hit the mark in Saturday's game in two less contests than 2007.
Kime's 23 strikeouts in the tournament last season were the most in UCF conference tournament history, topping Dottie Cupp's mark of 21 Ks during the ASun Tournament in the Knights' inaugural season in 2002. Her 0.41 ERA and 34.0 innings pitched fall just shy of the top spot, as they both rank second all-time.
NCAA RPI Rankings
The NCAA RPI rankings were released April 30, with the Knights ranking in at No. 30 in the nation. The ranking was the second-highest in Conference USA and the third-highest among teams in the state of Florida.
Leader of the Pitching Pack
Allison Kime's numbers in the 2008 C-USA Championship are the highest of any pitcher in the league going into Saturday's contest. The fire-baller ranks first in opposing batting average (.143), innings pitched (14.0) and strikeouts (17), while tying for the top-spot in wins (2), appearances (2) and games started (2). Her 1.00 ERA ranks second behind only Memphis' Janelle Valle who holds a 0.00 ERA in a mere two innings of work.
Breanne Javier needs five more hits this season to surpass Stephanie Best for the single-season hits record of 83 the shortstop set in 2003. Javier is averaging 1.24 hits per game this season, meaning she would need to play about five more games this season to reach the mark. But, considering the first baseman held a 15-game hitting streak coming into the tournament and has posted 25 multiple-hit games this season, it just may be possible in less.
Showing What They Are Made Of
Tiffany Lane and Hillary Barrow have paced the Knights offense throughout the C-USA Championship, as they both are batting .500 in the event. Lane is 4-for-8 with a double and two runs scored, while Barrow is 3-for-6 with a home run, three RBI and a run scored. The sophomore third baseman has also posted a 1.000 batting average through Friday, a mark that ties for third in the tournament.
The Knights look to clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament Saturday when they compete for the Conference USA Softball Championship title May 10 versus No. 9 Houston. For the latest news and information on the Knights, tickets or apparel log on to www.ucfathletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. Also check out UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pics