Feb. 12, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF softball team will welcome 10 different softball squads to the UCF Softball Complex and the Hagerty High School softball field this weekend when it plays host to the UCF Early Bird Tournament beginning Friday. In its first home tournament of the 2009 season, the Black and Gold will play both Villanova and UT-Arlington on Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., respectively, before concluding the event with a pair of contests against George Mason and national-powerhouse, No. 11 Tennessee, on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The tournament will run though Sunday afternoon, with the final game of the event slated for 1 p.m. at the UCF Softball Complex.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Friday, Feb. 13
3:30 p.m. - Villanova
5:30 p.m. - UT-Arlington
Saturday, Feb. 14
11 a.m. - George Mason
3:30 p.m. - No. 11 Tennessee
UCF leads VU, 2-1
First meeting vs. UTA
UCF leads GMU, 2-0
UCF and UT tied, 1-1
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? The Knights continue to receive national recognition in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll this week, receiving two votes in the poll. The pair of votes continue UCF's streak of eight-straight weeks among the best in the nation.
? UCF will play 16 of its next 17 games at the friendly confines of the UCF Softball Complex, highlighted by three-consecutive home tournaments, beginning with the UCF Early Bird Tournament on Friday.
? Last season, the Knights were almost unstoppable on their home turf, posting a 24-9 record at the UCF Softball Complex. While hosting tournaments at its home stadium, the Black and Gold held a 6-4 record in 2008.
? Tough competition is what the Knights look for prior to their Conference USA schedule and the Early Bird Tournament looks to have just that. For the second-straight week, UCF will face a ranked opponent when it battles No. 11 Tennessee Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Lady Vols have made appearances in three Women's College World Series in the last four years.
? Three of the Knights' four opponents this weekend will be playing their first games of the season this weekend in Orlando, Fla. Villanova, UT-Arlington and George Mason have yet to step on the field in 2009, while Tennessee has already posted four wins after competing in the BYU Red Desert Classic.
? Heading into the UCF Early Bird Tournament this weekend, the Knights have six of their batters hitting .300 or better, led by Morgan Bullard's .600 (3-for-5) average.
The UCF softball team continues to make noise at the national level in 2009, receiving two votes in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll released on 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 eighth-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 26 votes in the final poll of 2008.
LAST TIME OUT
Following a tough outing at the Kajikawa Classic last weekend, the Black and Gold looked forward to its home opener on Wednesday afternoon at the friendly confines of the UCF Softball Complex vs. North Florida. The Knights managed to take the opening game of the doubleheader from the Ospreys, 2-1, behind a solid pitching performance from Ashleigh Cole, before falling in the nightcap, 7-5.
HOME SWEET HOME
UCF plays host to three-consecutive tournaments during the month of February, which kicks off Friday morning at the UCF Early Bird Tournament. During the stretch, the Knights will play their next 16 of 17 games at the UCF Softball Complex. Following this weekend's event, the team will travel to Jacksonville for a mid-week contest against the Dolphins, before returning home to host the Comfort Suites Invitational. Three home contests follow during the week, before UCF finishes its tournament schedule with the UCF Invitational and a single game vs. Loyola (Ill.).
Heading into the UCF Early Bird Tournament this weekend, the Knights have six of their batters hitting .300 or better, led by Morgan Bullard's .600 (3-for-5) average. Breanne Javier has the highest average for players that have played all six games this season, posting a .389 (7-for18) average, while Magon Paul and Ashleigh Cole are not far behind with matching .333 marks. Abby McClain and Vanessa Perez round out the .300 club with .316 and .313 averages, respectively.
Hillary Barrow was a perfect 2-for-2 with two doubles at the plate in UCF's nightcap Wednesday against UNF. The junior added a RBI and posted a 1.000 slugging percentage for the two contests, continuing her reign on top of the Knights' leader board with five RBI, 10 total bases, three doubles and a .667 slugging percentage on the season.
DOWN, BUT NOT OUT
The Black and Gold have trailed their opponents heading into the sixth inning on three different occasions this season, but have not gone down without a fight. UCF has scored its most runs in the seventh inning in 2009, with seven runners touching home plate in the frame. The Knights put together an impressive late-game rally against No. 2 Arizona State on Feb. 6, scoring four runs in the final inning on a three-run home run from Hillary Barrow and a solo bomb from Vanessa Perez. The Knights also staged a rally in game two of their doubleheader on Wednesday against the Ospreys, posting three runs in the sixth inning on four hits, a walk and a costly error by North Florida.
MAKING HER WAY BACK
Despite getting off to a rocky start in Arizona, junior hurler Ashleigh Cole was back in top form Wednesday night as she dropped her ERA from 12.25 to 5.11, a change of 7.14 points. Cole picked up the win in the circle in the opening contest vs. the Ospreys, allowing only one unearned run on six hits in a complete-game effort. The junior then came in and finished the second game of the doubleheader, giving up only one run in 2.2 innings.
The Knights have had their best performances this season when Mother Nature is lighting the way, posting both of their wins during day games. UCF has posted 10 runs in its pair of victories and have committed only one error. The same proved true last season, when the Black and Gold totaled 43 wins before 5 p.m.
Fans can catch up with the Knights each week by watching `Extra Innings with Renee Luers-Gillispie' on Knights All-Access, exclusively at UCFAtheltics.com. The skipper reviews the week that was, previews the Knights' upcoming contests and answers fan questions on every episode of the broadcast. Curious Knight enthusiasts can also find out Gillispie's pick for the team's player of the week in each installment.
Season tickets are on sale now for the 2009 softball season, which features 34 home games at the UCF Softball Complex. 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.