May 3, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF (27-26, 11-12 C-USA) softball out-hit visiting UTEP, 6-4, but fell to the Conference USA foe, 3-2, in the final game of the teams' league series Sunday afternoon at the UCF Softball Complex.
With a 2-1 record in the series with the Miners (25-28-1, 8-15-1 C-USA) this weekend, the Black and Gold earned the No. 5 seed in the Conference USA Championship presented by Helen of Troy which gets underway on Thursday in El Paso, Texas. UCF will play the No. 4 seed in the tournament's opening-round contest, which will be the loser of the Memphis/Houston series.
The Knights' four seniors, Lindsay Dean (Jacksonville, Fla.), Lexi Gresham (Fresno, Calif.), Magon Paul (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Breanne Javier (Castaic, Calif.) were all given the starting nod in Sunday's game in honor of Senior Day and their last contest at the UCF Softball Complex.
"It is bittersweet seeing them leave," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "It is a wonderful opportunity to see them move on into the next step in their lives. It was tough that we had to lose, but seeing them play as hard as they did, and having the crowd that they had for the final game, as a coach, that is the kind of atmosphere that you want them to leave under."
Gresham earned the start in left field for the Black and Gold, her first of 2009 after suffering a season-ending injury prior to the start of the year.
"It was great to share one last memory on the field with these three girls," Gresham said after the game. "It has been a great experience. I am thankful to Coach Gillispie for giving me the opportunity to start today and for putting me out there."
Paul posted a RBI double at the plate for UCF, while also getting the start in the circle. Despite being tagged with the loss, the hurler did not give up an earned run, while allowing three hits in 2.2 innings of work. Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.) finished the game on the mound, giving up only one hit and striking out four in 4.1 innings of relief.
Dean also posted a hit for the home team, while Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) led the Knights at the plate for the third-straight game with two hits, including a double, while also scoring a run, stealing two bases and earning a walk.
Errors proved costly for the Knights in the third inning, as the Miners took advantage of two miscues by UCF's defense to take a three-run lead in the frame.
UCF started to chip away at UTEP's lead, plating one run in the fourth inning on a double to left centerfield by Paul. The shot to the gap scored Mary Helen Tyler (Marianna, Fla.), who reached on a single up the middle, from second base.
Lane continued to produce for the home team in the seventh inning, reaching base safely on a fielding error by the Miner's third baseman, before moving to second on a groundout. The speedy sophomore then stole third base and scored on the same play when the ball got away from the third baseman trying to get her out. UCF could not get another run across the plate, however, and ended up falling short by one run.
The Black and Gold will look to defend its C-USA Championship title beginning May 7 when it travels to El Paso, Texas for the 2009 C-USA Championship presented by Helen of Troy. 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.