Cole Fires One-Hit Shutout as UCF Softball Upsets No. 22 Ohio State

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March 24, 2010

Game One Box Score | Game Two Box Score

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Senior Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.) fired a one-hit, complete-game shutout in the circle to help the UCF softball team upset No. 22 Ohio State, 3-0, in the opening game of a doubleheader Wednesday afternoon at the UCF Softball Complex, before the squad fell to Cornell in the nightcap, 4-3.

"Ashleigh's pitches were really working well today," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "She utilized a lot of her curveballs to keep them off balance. I am really proud of the way she has taken this team and this season on her back. Her consistency helps our defense relax and it has accounted for a lot of the success we have had recently."

With the doubleheader split, the Knights moved to 18-12 on the season, while improving its record against ranked opponents to 3-2 this year. The Black and Gold previously defeated No. 16 Tennessee and No. 9 Alabama, with Cole picking up the wins in the circle in all three contests.

GAME ONE - UCF 3, No. 22 OHIO STATE 0 In Wednesday's outing against the Buckeyes, Cole moved her record to 12-6 on the year and recorded her second-consecutive shutout after allowing only one hit and striking out two batters.

Offensively, the trio of Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa), Marissa Menendez (Tampa, Fla.) and Mary Helen Tyler (Marianna, Fla.), combined for six of the Knights' nine hits in the contest, with each posting a pair of knocks for the Black and Gold. McClain and Tyler also accounted for two of UCF's runs in the upset, while Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.) was the third runner to touch home for the Knights.

Also contributing big for the Black and Gold's offense was Hillary Barrow (Miami, Fla.) Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) and Morgan Bullard (Columbia, S.C.), as they each tallied one hit and one RBI for the home team.

A pair of errors by the Ohio State defense helped the Knights plate two runs in the opening frame to take an early lead. Both McClain and Land reached on back-to-back defensive miscues, before a single to left field by Barrow allowed the first run to touch home. With runners at second and third, Lane hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Land from third and give the home team a two-run advantage through one inning.

"Offensively, we knew that we needed to come out and be aggressive, because if we got on their pitcher early that was going to be our best chance of pulling off the win," Luers-Gillispie said. "We saw a little bit more patience at the plate from our hitters today which was the main component of our offensive game plan heading into the day."

After being held scoreless through the next four innings, the Black and Gold put an insurance run across in the bottom of the sixth inning on a RBI single by Bullard. The inning began with back-to-back singles from Menendez and Tyler, and following a fielder's choice and a groundout, Tyler stole third base with two outs to put herself in prime position to score. That's when Bullard hit a strike up the middle to allow Tyler to touch home, pad the Knights' lead and seal the win.

GAME TWO - UCF 3, CORNELL 4 In the nightcap, Land and Lane accounted for four of the Knights' six hits against the Big Red, with each of the middle infielders cranking out a pair of hits and a run, with Lane also recording a RBI and Land stealing two bases.

Despite seeing her season-best nine-game hitting streak come to an end against the Buckeyes earlier in the day, Land has collected at least one hit in 10 of UCF's last 11 games, including five multiple hit games, while hitting .469 with 15 hits, six runs scored, three doubles, four RBI and six stolen bases.

"Every time I am up to bat, my goal is to get on base," Land said. "Once I'm there, I know that I can use my speed to my advantage and make things happen on the basepaths."

Junior Ashley Schmitt (Tampa, Fla.) took the loss for the Black and Gold against Cornell, allowing four runs on seven hits and striking out one in two innings of work to fall to 2-1 on the year. Senior Kristina DeMello (Mead, Wash.) came in relief in the third inning, shutting down the Big Red offense in five innings pitched. The hurler allowed only one hit and held the visitors scoreless, while striking out two.

The Knights had to play catch-up in game two against Cornell after falling down by two runs in the opening frame. But, Arielle Palafox (Lakewood, Calif.) cut Cornell's lead in half with a laser down the left field line in the bottom half of the inning to score Land from third, and a RBI single up the middle off the bat of Lane knotted the game, 2-2, with Palafox coming in to score from second.

The Big Red answered back with two more runs in the second inning, one of which would prove to be the eventual game winner.

In the fourth inning, Lane did all that she could do to cut the Big Red's lead to one, leading off the frame with a double to left centerfield, before stealing third and touching home on an errant throw by Cornell's catcher.

UCF threatened to tie the game up in the bottom of the seventh inning after Menendez reached on an infield single and stole second when no one was covering the bag. But, two pop ups and a strikeout halted the Knights' rally and concluded the game.

The Black and Gold will have a chance at redemption against the Big Red Thursday, as the two squads will face off once again in a 3 p.m. contest at the UCF Softball Complex. The game against Cornell will be the last game in UCF's 17-game homestand.

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.

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