McClain's Heroics Lead Knights to Extra-Inning Victory Over Southern Miss


April 5, 2009

Final Stats

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - With two outs and bases loaded, Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa) nailed a two-RBI, walk-off double to lead the UCF softball team to a, 5-4, win over Conference USA-foe Southern Miss (19-19-1, 8-7 C-USA) Sunday in an eight-inning thriller at the UCF Softball Complex.

"The pitcher got ahead of me with a strike, which made me a little nervous," McClain said about the at-bat. "But I treated it just like any other at bat. I found my pitch and hit it."

The walk-off double was only one of McClain's game-high three hits, as the sophomore totaled two doubles, two RBI and one run scored to pace the Knights at the plate. Her thee-hit performance was her eighth of the season, which surpassed Stephanie Best's mark of seven three-hit games, for the program's single-season record.

The league-win improved UCF's record to 18-21 on the season and 4-8 in C-USA action, while also giving the Knights their second series win of the season. Head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie and the softball program now stand only four wins away from reaching the 300-win milestone.

"What was nice about today's game is that our offense came through when we needed a hit, especially with runners on," Luers-Gillispie said. "We had to step up today and that is exactly what we did."

Junior Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.) allowed four runs, only two of which were earned, on four hits while striking out six to pick up her 11th victory of the season in the circle for the Black and Gold. The hurler (11-6) also had a record-day at the plate to help her own cause, matching Cici Alvarez for the program-record for sacrifice hits in a game, totaling three in the contest.

"I definitely believe that this is a turning point," Luers-Gillispie said. "Seeing Ashleigh Cole pitch the way that she did to win this game was great. She did the little things right."

The Golden Eagles put the first runs on the board, plating two in the first and one in the third, but the Knights cut Southern Miss' lead to one in the bottom of the third frame with two runners touching home for the home team.

McClain started things off, lacing a one-out single through the left side of the infield, before Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) put two runners on by legging out an infield single. Breanne Javier (Castaic, Calif.) plated McClain from second with a RBI-single through the right side, before a throwing error by the Eagle's second baseman allowed Lane to touch home safely.

Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.) evened the game, 3-3, with a RBI double in the fourth inning, scoring Mary Helen Tyler (Marianna, Fla.), who reached earlier in the frame on a single.

The scored remained knotted through regulation, before Southern Miss took the lead with a run in the top of the eighth.

UCF battled back in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases courtesy of back-to-back walks to Vanessa Perez (San Diego, Calif.) and Tyler, a sacrifice bunt by Cole and a pair of fielder's choices off the bats of Lindsay Dean (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Land. With two outs, McClain stepped up to the plate and belted her two-run walk-off double to give UCF the comeback-win.

The Knights are back in action Wednesday when they make the short trip to DeLand for a match-up with Stetson. The game, scheduled to get underway at 5 p.m., will be televised on Bright House Sports Network.

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.