UCF Softball Receiving Preseason National Recognition

Jan. 20, 2009

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - With the 2009 season nearly two weeks away, the UCF softball team is already making noise at the national level, receiving eight votes in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Preseason Coaches Poll released Tuesday.

The NFCA Poll Committee, made up of NCAA Division I head coaches, one representing each conference, voted UCF as one of the top teams in the nation for the seventh-straight week, dating back to last season. The Knights began the streak on March 25, 2008 when they received one vote in the poll, before they garnered a program-record 14 votes in the final poll of 2008. UCF won a program-record 49 games, securing the C-USA Championship crown and defeating top-ranked Florida in the NCAA Gainesville Regional.

UCF returns 10 letterwinners from last year's squad, including two-time All-C-USA First Team selection Breanne Javier (Castaic, Calif.) and C-USA Championship MVP Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Fla.). Both senior first baseman Javier and sophomore shortstop Lane will lead an experienced infield on UCF's 2009 journey to the postseason, which also consists of junior third baseman Hillary Barrow (Miami, Fla.), freshman second baseman Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.) and a pair of veteran catchers, senior Lindsay Dean (Jacksonville, Fla.) and sophomore Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa).

Junior Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.) will take over as the Knights' No. 1 pitcher this season following the departure of two-time Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-Southeast Region First Team selection Allison Kime. Cole posted a 2.17 ERA and registered 13 wins for the Black and Gold in 2008, while ranking 23rd nationally with a 1.22 walks-per-game average. Joining Cole on the pitching staff are senior Magon Paul (Virginia Beach, Va.), sophomore Diana Rojas (Miami, Fla.) and junior Kristina DeMello (Mead, Wash.), a transfer from Miami Dade Community College.

The outfield will receive almost a complete facelift this year, as senior Lexi Gresham (Fresno, Calif.) will be the only returner in the grass. Battling for a starting spot in the outfield will be sophomore Morgan Bullard (Columbia, S.C.), junior Mary Helen Tyler (Marianna, Fla.), a transfer from Tallahassee Community College, and freshmen Tenisha Dixon (New Port Richey, Fla.) and Vanessa Perez (San Diego, Calif.).

The Knights open the 2009 season Feb. 6-8 at the ASU Kajikawa Classic, where they will face defending national champion No. 2 Arizona State on opening day, before hosting their home opener on Feb. 11 against in-state rival North Florida.

For more information regarding season tickets or birthday party packages, please visit UCFAthletics.com or call the UCF Athletics Ticket Office at 407-823-1000.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.