UCF Softball Claims a Pair of Victories at UTEP

Stats Stats

May 8, 2010

Game One Box Score | Game Two Box Score

By Sarah Tarasewicz

EL PASO, Texas (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF softball team totaled 21 hits, which included a season-high 15 hits in the nightcap, to sweep a Conference USA doubleheader from UTEP Saturday afternoon at Helen of Troy Softball Stadium. The Knights claimed a win in the opening contest, 4-3, in eight innings, before winning a see-saw offensive battle, 12-10, in the nightcap.

"As a whole I felt like we hit really well today," assistant coach Stephanie Best said. "In both games we came through in clutch situations and we got the timely hits when we needed them. The win in the first game really helped our confidence heading into the second game, where we were able to do the same thing."

The pair of victories improved the Black and Gold's record to 32-20 on the year and 15-7 in C-USA action. With East Carolina also sweeping its doubleheader at Memphis, the Knights remain in second place in league standings heading into Sunday's single contest against the Miners.

Each win is critical this weekend for all C-USA teams, as the C-USA Championship is set to get underway in less than a week.

"These wins were huge for us today as we head into the postseason," Best said. "Again it gives us confidence heading into the conference tournament. I think that it's important to know that UTEP is a great team and that we can hit off of an excellent pitcher."

GAME ONE - UCF 4, UTEP 3 (8 innings)

Senior Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.) was able to get the job done of both sides of the ball in game one, earning the win in the circle, allowing three runs on 10 hits and striking out five, while also belting the game-winning solo home run in the eighth inning.

"When Abby and Marissa got called out in that inning, Mary Helen (Tyler) gave me a look of concern, considering there were two outs in the eighth," Cole said. "So, I told her not to worry. I just had a feeling that I was going to hit a home run in that at bat."

The win for Cole improved her record to 20-12 on the season, making her only the fourth pitcher in program history to accomplish the feat. Dottie Cupp, Lindsey Enders and Allison Kime were the only three prior to tally 20 or more wins in a season.

"I felt like I made my defense work more than usual today," Cole said. "But, they had my back. Abby called a great game. Even though I didn't throw my best today we made it work and we came out with the win."

Backing up the senior at the plate were junior Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa), who was 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI and sophomores Vanessa Perez (San Diego, Calif.) and Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.). Perez posted two hits and scored a run, while Land was 1-for-1 with a double, a RBI, two sacrifice hits and a walk.

Also adding to UCF's offensive efforts in the victory were Hillary Barrow (Miami, Fla.) and Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.). Barrow walked twice and scored a run, while Lane scored the opening run of the day.

The Knights didn't waste any time putting a run on the board in the opening contest as they put the first run of the series across in the top of the first inning. Lane reached first base on the second pitch of the contest after getting plunked by a delivery from UTEP starter Stacie Townsend. Lane then advanced all the way to third base on a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Land. The speedster would score on a wild pitch to give UCF a one-run advantage.

With a double to right centerfield, McClain extended the Black and Gold's lead to two runs in the third inning. The RBI line drive to the gap scored Barrow all the way from first base. Barrow reached earlier in the frame on a two-out walk from Townsend, the fourth walk of the game for the hurler.

The Knights' lead was erased in the bottom of the fourth inning, however, as Chelsea Troupe hit a two-run home run tight down the left field line to even the score at two runs apiece. The Miners then took their first lead of the contest with a run in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a RBI single through the right side by Camilla Carrera.

With Perez perched at second base with two outs, Land once again knotted the score with a RBI double to left field in the top of the seventh, a score that would send the game into extra innings.

With two outs in the top of the eighth, Cole helped her own cause with a solo home run over the left field fence to give the advantage back to the Black and Gold heading into the bottom half of the frame. The defense was able to stave off the Miners in the final half to clinch the win in the opening game.

In the nightcap, Cole was once again the star at the plate as she cranked out a career-high four hits, which included a home run, one run scored, a RBI and a walk. Fellow senior Barrow was also a dominate presence for the Black and Gold in the batter's box, going 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored and a career-best five RBI.

"Cole has a lot of power, and when she is swinging well and her body is connected she has plenty of power to hit the ball out of the park," assistant coach Nicole Trimboli said. "I think that she more than proved that today. She had a great day.

"As for Hillary, she is one of those players that when the game is on the line that is who you want up to bat," Trimboli said. "She is a clutch hitter. I cannot say enough about her. She is just a fighter. Any time that she is up to bat and there are runners on base something good is going to happen."

Perez continued to swing a big stick in the second game, as she posted three hits, two doubles and scored two runs, while McClain also added two hits, a double and two RBI. Lane scored four runs, registered a hit, an RBI and walked three times, while Land walked three times, scored twice and tagged on a hit and a RBI.

Kristina DeMello (Mead, Wash.) earned the win in the circle for the Knights, allowing four runs on five hits, while striking out three in 2.1 innings of relief. Diana Rojas (Miami, Fla.) started the game on the mound, giving up five earned runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings of work.

Lane once again scored the first run of the game in the first inning for the Black and Gold, reaching on a walk, before moving all the way to third on a pair of wild pitches delivered by UTEP starter Kelly Curran. An errant throw by catcher Carrera to pick Lane off at third base allowed the shortstop to easily touch home plate to give the Knights another early lead.

But, the Miners quickly claimed the lead from the Black and Gold in the bottom half of the frame on a triple, a hit by pitch and a two-RBI double from Carrera.

UCF was able to even the scored at 2-2 with a run in the top of the third inning. Barrow scored the game-tying run after reaching on a fielder's choice, moving to second on a groundout and touching home on back-to-back wild pitches.

A four-run fourth inning blew the contest wide open for the Knights, putting them up by four heading into the bottom half of the frame. The surge began with a single through the left side by Cole. A fielder's choice by Tyler replaced Cole at first base, before a hot-shot double down the left field line by Perez put runners at second and third with only one out. The Miners were able to get the second out of the inning, but it was before a chop-single to the pitcher by Lane brought Tyler around and also allowed Perez to safely touch home on an errant throw during the play. Land walked to keep the inning alive and Barrow took advantage of the situation with a two-RBI double to the left side to extend UCF's lead.

The Miners would not go down without a fight, however, scoring four runs of its own in the bottom of the fifth inning to deadlock the score at 6-6.

The Knights would push one across in the top of the sixth inning, but UTEP once again had an answer for the visiting squad in the bottom half of the frame, going up by two runs on a three-RBI double to the left centerfield gap by Kayleigh Walts.

Cole hit her third home run of the season, and second of the day off reliever Townsend, to cut the Miner's lead to only one in the top of the seventh inning, before Barrow laced a bases-loaded double down the left field line to clear the bases and put UCF by two. On the very next pitch, McClain pounded another double, this time off the left field fence, to extend the Knights' lead to three runs heading into the final half of play.

The UCF softball team is set to compete in the Conference USA Championship hosted by Houston on May 13-15. The top eight teams in league standings will participate in the single-elimination tournament, with the winning team earning C-USA's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

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