DeMello Fans 13 in League-Split with Southern Miss

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April 4, 2009

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Junior hurler Kristina DeMello (Mead, Wash.) posted a career-high 13 strikeouts as the UCF softball team split a Conference USA doubleheader with visiting Southern Miss at the UCF Softball Complex Saturday afternoon. The Knights dropped the first game, 5-4, before coming from behind to take the nightcap, 2-1.

"We knew coming in that Kristina had the capability of being dominant on the mound," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "She showed that at Miami-Dade. She now has a feeling of what she needs to be doing and I think that confidence is showing when she steps on the mound. I believe that Kristina has the confidence now to step up and deliver in a big game for us."

The Black and Gold moved to 17-21 on the season and 3-8 in league play with the split, while the Golden Eagles moved to 19-18-1 overall and 8-6 in C-USA action.

DeMello earned the win in the circle for UCF in the nightcap, allowing only one run on four hits in a complete-game performance. DeMello's baker's dozen marked the most strikeouts for the Knights in a game this season.

"I really felt confident coming out today," DeMello said following the contest. "The girls have been really supportive and it definitely helped me throw a good game. Today just felt like a good day."

Juniors Hillary Barrow (Miami, Fla.) and Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.) each posted two hits in the victory, with Cole registering the game-winning RBI in the sixth and Barrow touching home for a score. Mary Helen Tyler (Marianna, Fla.), Vanessa Perez (San Diego, Calif.) and Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.) also posted hits for the home team, with Tyler's RBI-single in the sixth inning bringing in the game-tying run and Perez's run proving to be the game-winner.

The Golden Eagles got the first run of the game across in the third inning on a single, an intentional walk, a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly, maintaining their one-run lead through the fifth inning. But the Knights battled back with two runs on four-straight hits in the bottom of the sixth to pull the rug out from beneath Southern Miss and secure the victory.

Barrow got things rolling in the sixth with a two-out single, before Perez followed with a single of her own. A wild pitch would advance the runners to second and third, and Tyler's single would bring in Barrow to even the game at one run apiece. Cole would step up to the plate one batter later and lace a single through the right-side to give the Knights a hard-earned victory.

Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa) paced the Knights' offense with a 3-for-3 performance at the plate in the opening contest, adding a run, a RBI and a walk. Both Land and Breanne Javier (Castaic, Calif.) also put together strong outings at the dish for the Black and Gold, each posting two hits, a double and one run scored. Javier also recorded a RBI in the four-run fifth inning.

The Knights pounded out nine hits in the loss, outhitting Southern Miss, who posted eight.

Magon Paul (Virginia Beach, Va.) earned the loss in the circle for UCF, allowing four runs on four hits in 1.1 innings of work. Cole completed the game on the rubber, giving up only one unearned run on four hits while striking out three batters in 5.2 innings of relief.

The Golden Eagles took a five-run lead after scoring a single run in both the first and fourth innings and three runs in the second frame, but the Knights were not about to give up without a fight, cutting Southern Miss' lead to only one in the fourth.

With two outs in the frame, Land got the Black and Gold bats ringing with a double to left centerfield, starting a string of five-straight base hits. McClain scored Land with a single to centerfield, before a throwing error by the Golden Eagle centerfielder put McClain on third base. Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) followed with a single to centerfield to give the Knights their second run of the inning and Javier brought Lane around to score all the way from first with a booming double to right-center. Barrow put the finishing touch on the inning and put UCF within a run with a RBI single to right field.

UCF held Southern Miss scoreless through the final three innings, giving itself a chance to make a run in the bottom of the seventh. McClain and Lane led off the frame with a single and a walk, respectively, putting the game-winning run on first base, but a strikeout and a double play by the visiting Golden Eagles halted the home team's effort short.

The Black and Gold will conclude its series with the Golden Eagles Sunday at Noon at the UCF Softball Complex.

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.