April 10, 2010
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF softball team posted 17 runs on 24 hits to sweep a Conference USA doubleheader from host Marshall Saturday afternoon at Dot Hicks Field in Huntington, W.Va. The Knights won the opening contest, 9-1, in five innings, before taking the win from the home team in the nightcap, 8-4, in eight innings.
The win improved the Knights' record to 24-17 overall and 9-4 in league play, while the Thundering Herd fell to 18-21 on the year and 3-11 in C-USA action.
GAME ONE - UCF 9, Marshall 1 (5 innings) Senior Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.) picked up her 15th win of 2010 Saturday in the opening contest of the C-USA doubleheader as the hurler held the Herd to only one unearned run on three hits in a complete-game outing in the circle.
Cole helped her own cause at the plate in the opening game as well, going 2-for-2 with a RBI. Also tallying two hits for the Black and Gold in the win were Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) and Morgan Bullard (Columbia, S.C.), with each adding a RBI and a run.
With her first hit of the contest, Lane extended her hitting streak to a season-high eight games. The junior needs only three more games to match her career-high 11 game hitting streak she totaled as a freshman in 2008.
Hillary Barrow (Miami, Fla.) paced the visiting squad with three RBI, two runs scored and a double, and Marissa Menendez (Tampa, Fla.) smashed her first collegiate home run in the victory and added two RBI.
Overall, the nine runs scored for the Black and Gold was its highest total this season, while it also tallied 10 hits for the fifth time on the year.
After being held scoreless through the first three innings, the Knights' offense, with the help of a Marshall miscue, caught fire in the fourth inning, scoring nine runs, including eight with two outs, in the frame. The Knights posted five hits, while batting through the order in the inning.
The scoring spectacle began when Barrow led off the inning after being plunked by a pitch from Marshall starter Katie Murphree. Menendez moved her to second with the sacrifice bunt, before she took third on a passed ball. A single off the bat of Cole, her second of the contest, allowed Barrow to touch home and plate the first of what would eventually become nine runs in the frame.
With one runner on, Mary Helen Tyler (Marianna, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt, but the Herd attempted to get the lead runner out on the play and an error by the shortstop put two runners on with one out. The home team recorded the second out of the frame on a fielder's choice off the bat of Vanessa Perez (San Diego, Calif.), but Bullard laced a single up the middle of the infield to put the Black and Gold ahead by two runs.
A single to right field by Lane brought UCF's third run of the contest across the plate, before back-to-back walks allowed to Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.) and Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa) pushed the Knights' lead to four.
With the bases juiced, Barrow did what she does best and came up with a huge base-clearing double in the clutch to add three RBI to her already team-best 23 RBI on the year.
Menendez would put her own stamp on the inning and push two more runs across the plate with her first career home run over the right field fence, a two-run shot, to give the Black and Gold a nine-run advantage.
The Herd would managed to plate a single run in the bottom of the fifth inning, but UCF would hang on to clinch the win in only five frames thanks to the five-run mercy rule.
GAME TWO - UCF 8, Marshall 4 (8 innings) UCF pounded out a season-best 14 hits in the second game, with McClain putting together one of her best performances of the season at the plate. The junior went 3-for-4 with two RBI and one run scored, while four Knights also had two hits for the visiting Black and Gold.
Lane tallied two hits, scored three runs and had a RBI, Land posted two hits and scored two runs, Menendez had two hits and two RBI, while Perez totaled two hits, scored a run and drew a walk in the contest.
Lane's game-opening single extended her hitting streak to nine games, matching UCF's season-high for 2010. During the nine-game stretch, Lane is batting .424 with 14 hits, six runs scored, seven doubles, five RBI and five stolen bases.
In the circle, Kristina DeMello (Mead, Wash.) earned the win for the Black and Gold, allowing only two earned runs on nine hits, while striking out nine in eight innings of work. The victory improved her record to 5-5 on the year.
The Black and Gold continued to light up the scoreboard in the second game, plating the first run of the contest to take an early lead. Lane opened the game with a single up the middle, stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Land. McClain would poke a single through the left side of the infield to score Lane from third and put the Knights up by one through one half an inning of play.
Marshall evened the game, 1-1, in the bottom half of the frame on a walk and a RBI single, before it took its first lead of the day on a two-run home run off the bat of Jazmine Valle.
The Thundering Herd's lead did not last long, however, as the Black and Gold plated three runs in the top of the fifth to take a one-run lead. With one out, Lane started off the frame with a walk and Land followed up with a bunt single to put two runners on. McClain drew another walk to load the bases, and that is when Marshall took starter Caitlin Jackson out of the game and brought Murphree in to try and shut UCF's offense down. But, the Knights took advantage of the pitching change right away. A ball passed the catcher allowed Lane to score and forced Murphree to intentionally walk Barrow to once again load the bases. That's when Menendez laced a two-run double to right centerfield to give the lead back to UCF, 4-3.
With the game drawing to a close, Marshall once again evened the game in the bottom of the seventh inning on a solo shot to centerfield by Alianna Telles to keep its chances alive.
UCF would not give the game up that easily, as it would go on to post four runs in the top of the eighth on five hits and a pair of Marshall errors.
Perez, Bullard, Lane, Land and McClain all posted consecutive hits in the frame, with Perez leading things off with a double to right centerfield. Bullard's single would put runners at the corners
DeMello and the Black and Gold defense would go on to retire the side in the bottom of the eighth to bring the two-game circus to a close.
The Knights and the Thundering Herd conclude their C-USA series Sunday at 12 p.m.
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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