May 12, 2010
By Sarah Tarasewicz
HOUSTON, Texas (UCFAthletics.com) - Less than one week after sweeping UTEP on the road, the UCF softball team will face the Miners again Thursday in the opening round of the Conference USA Championship hosted by Houston. First pitch for the contest is slated for 2:30 p.m. ET.
The Knights enter the league tournament with a 33-20 overall record and the No. 3 seed in the event with a 16-7 conference mark, while UTEP faces off with the Black and Gold once again with a 31-23 overall record, an 11-13 C-USA clip and a No. 6 seed in the tournament.
UCF must defeat the Miners in order to advance to the second round of the Championship, as the tournament is set up in a single-elimination format. Should the Knights win Thursday's contest, they would advance to the semi-final round against either No. 2 Tulsa or No. 7 Memphis Friday at 4 p.m. ET. The C-USA Championship game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday and will be aired live on CBS College Sports Network.
UCF is 6-3 all-time when playing in the C-USA Championship, which includes three-straight wins against Southern Miss, UTEP and Houston at Cougar Softball Stadium to claim the 2008 C-USA Championship title and earn the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Black and Gold also holds a 4-4 record all-time when playing at Cougar Softball Stadium.
Following its run to the crown in 2008, UCF had five Knights named to the all-tournament team, with Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) being honored as the event's MVP. Also garnering all-tournament team honors that season were Hillary Barrow (Miami, Fla.), Allison Kime, Breanne Javier and Marquita Council.
Lane and Barrow, along with Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.), Morgan Bullard (Columbia, S.C.), Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa) and Diana Rojas (Miami, Fla.), who were all part of that squad, look to have the same outcome in Houston this year as they did in their historic run to the league-title in 2008 at Cougar Softball Stadium.
Lane and Barrow also had a big part in helping the Knights earn a three-game C-USA sweep over the Miners last weekend. With their aid, the Knights pounded out 29 hits, which included a season-high 15 hits in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader. In that same game, the Black and Gold scored 12 runs, which was the team's first 10+ run contest since 2008.
Lane scored a career-high four runs in Saturday's doubleheader nightcap, a feat that had not been accomplished since late February 2005, while Barrow also posted a career-best five RBI in the contest. The last time a Knight tallied five RBI in a single contest was back in 2004, when Kacie Feaster totaled five RBI against Mercer.
Cole put together one of the best offensive performances of her career during the series. The senior hit .545 with six hits, two home runs, four RBI, two runs scored and two walks. Both of Cole's home runs in the series would eventually prove to be the game-winners in both games of the doubleheader on Saturday. Cole also picked up two wins for the Knights in the circle against UTEP.
Cole paces UCF with a 21-12 record in the circle this season. The senior boasts a 1.53 ERA, five shutouts and 149 strikeouts in 224.2 innings pitched.
UCF leads the all-time series against the Miners, 12-4, winning its only post-season contest against UTEP, 3-0, in 2008 in Houston.
All of UCF's contests at the C-USA Championship will be streamed live on All-Access, have live radio coverage and may also be followed on Gametracker. All events will be available on UCFAthletics.com.
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.