Feb. 27, 2010
Columbus, Ga. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF (6-8) softball team received at least one hit from eight different batters Saturday to split two games on the second day of the NFCA Leadoff Classic Saturday in Columbus, Ga. The Knights defeated Nebraska, 5-4, in extra innings in the nightcap after suffering a tough loss to Maryland, 3-2, earlier in the day.
Seniors Mary Helen Tyler (Marianna, Fla.) and Hillary Barrow (Miami, Fla.) each had two hits for the Black and Gold to lead the squad's offensive production, with each posting a double. Barrow added a team-best three runs scored and a RBI.
Also coming up big for the Knights Saturday were junior Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa) and freshman Arielle Palafox (Lakewood, Calif.), who each blasted a home run against the Cornhuskers. Palafox's was a two-run shot in the second innings, while McClain knocked a solo shot out of the park in the fifth. Each round-tripper was the first for the players this season.
Improving to 4-4 on the season, Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.) earned the win in the circle for UCF against Nebraska in the nightcap, holding the Huskers scoreless and hitless in 2.0 innings of relief. Kristina DeMello (Mead, Wash.) was the starter in the contest, allowing four runs, three earned, on six hits while striking out three in 6.0 innings of work.
Palafox put the Knights on the board with one swing of the bat in the top of the second inning, taking a 3-1 delivery from Mackin over the right field fence. The rookie's first career home run also scored Barrow from second base. The senior reached earlier in the inning with a walk.
Another run would cross the plate for the Black and Gold in the top of the second, as Tyler reached on a throwing error by the Huskers' third baseman and then advanced to second as the ball traveled down the right field fence. Morgan Bullard (Columbia, S.C.) then hit a hard shot to the third baseman and beat out the throw for an infield single, and, on the next pitch, stole second base. Nebraska's catcher attempted the toss Bullard out on the play, but the second baseman cut off the throw and Tyler took off for home. The throw from Foland was wide and allowed Tyler to touch home safely for the Knights' third run of the frame.
The Huskers would have an answer for the Black and Gold in the bottom half of the inning, scoring two runs on four hits to cut UCF's lead to one, before back-to-back wild pitches from DeMello allowed Nebraska to bring the game-tying run and even the contest at 3-3.
After two innings of scoreless softball, McClain put UCF ahead for the second time in the contest in the top of the fifth inning, blasting a home run to dead centerfield. The blast gave the Knights a 4-3 advantage and was the first for McClain in 2010.
Nebraska evened the score in the bottom of the sixth inning, however, on an infield single and a UCF throwing error, sending the game into the final frame of regulation tied, 4-4.
Tyler got things rolling for the Knights in the final frame, hitting a one-out double into deep left field. Vanessa Perez (San Diego, Calif.) followed with a walk to put two runners on with two outs for McClain, but Mackin caught the catcher swinging to get out of the jam.
Cole came in to face the Huskers in the bottom of the seventh and retired the side to send the contest into extra innings.
With the international tiebreaker in effect in the eighth, McClain started the inning at second base. The junior advanced to third on a bloop double off the bat of Marissa Menendez (Tampa, Fla.) and would score on a RBI single by Barrow to put the Black and Gold on top, 5-4, heading into the bottom of the eighth.
Cole and the Knights' defense held strong in the bottom of the eighth inning to hold Nebraska scoreless and earned a hard-fought victory.
Barrow posted a double, walked and scored two runs in UCF's opening game Saturday, but the Knights could not stave off Maryland's sixth inning comeback as they fell, 3-2, at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.
Once again, Cole put together a dazzling all-around performance for UCF, despite getting tagged with the loss in the circle. The senior allowed only two runs on six hits and struck out three in a complete-game outing on the mound, while also going 1-for-3 with both of the Knights' RBI at the plate.
In the contest, the Black and Gold was able to get runners on base, but could not find a way to bring them around, as it stranded eight runners on the base paths.
The Knights struck first in the opening game against the Terps, with Barrow crossing the plate in the top of the second inning on back-to-back walks issued to Barrow and Palafox, a sacrifice bunt by Tyler and a fielder's choice bunt off the bat of Cole.
The lead would not hold up however, as Maryland answered back with two runs in the bottom half of the frame to take its first lead of the contest.
The next three innings would remain scoreless for both squads, but the senior duo of Barrow and Cole changed that in the top of the sixth inning. Barrow started off the inning with a double to right centerfield and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Palafox. Following a strikeout, Cole stepped up to the plate and laced a single up the middle of the infield to knot the score heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Once again the Terps had an answer for the Black and Gold, plating the go-ahead run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. That run would prove to be the eventual game-winner, as UCF could not plate a run in the top of the seventh.
Season tickets for the 2010 season are only $40 and are on sale now, while single-game tickets are also available for purchase. Tickets can be purchased online at UCFAthletics.com or through the Athletics Ticket Office by calling (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.