Feb. 11, 2011
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (UCFAthletics.com) - Behind a career-best five RBI performance from senior Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa), the UCF (1-0) softball team opened the 2011 season with a 9-6 victory over Utah State (0-1) Friday afternoon at the UCLA Stacey Winsberg Memorial Tournament at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.
"It's always great to get a win on opening day," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "I thought our offense looked really impressive, which isn't usually typical so early in the year. Let's hope this is just a glimpse of how our offense will produce throughout the season."
McClain tallied five RBI, which included the game-winner, after going 2-for-3 with a home run, a single and a walk. Junior Allie Jest (Stone Mountain, Ga.), senior Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) and junior Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.) also posted two hits for the Knights in the contests.
Lane reached base every time she stepped to the plate against the Aggies, while scoring three different times. The senior's RBI triple in her first at bat of the year extended her Conference USA record amount of triples to 22
Land scored three runs for the Black and Gold as well, while going 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI.
Senior Diana Rojas (Miami, Fla.) earned the win in the circle for UCF, allowing only two runs on four hits with two strikeouts in three innings of relief. Junior Lacey Dinney (Binbrook, Ont.) earned the start, allowing four runs on five hits, while striking out three in four innings of work.
It did not take long for the Knights to get on the board against the Aggies, as Jest led off the bottom of the first with a single up the middle, before being knocked around the bases on a RBI triple off the bat of Lane to give the Black and Gold an early lead. With Lane on third, Land hit a double just over the head of Utah State's third baseman to allow Lane to touch the plate and make the score 2-0 through one full inning.
UCF lead would not last long, however, as the Aggies' Kelly Kaneshiro hit a two-run home run over the centerfield wall to even the score at two runs apiece, but the top of the Knights' batting order once again came through with a run in the bottom of the third to hold onto its lead. A one-out walk allowed to Lane and a single off the bat of Land put two runners on for McClain, who knocked a single up the middle of the infield to bring Lane around to score.
Utah State erased UCF's lead with two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings and led the Knights, 6-3, heading into the bottom of the fifth frame.
The Black and Gold went back to work offensively in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Lane reached on a single and Land on a fielding error by Utah State's pitcher. That's when a three-run, line-drive home run to dead centerfield off the bat of McClain evened the score and put the Knights right back into the game.
UCF held the Aggies scoreless in the top of the sixth and then continued to swing hot bats in the bottom of the frame, putting three runs on the board. Swan and Jest led off the inning with back-to-back infield singles and a walk allowed to Lane loaded the bases for the Knights. McClain posted the game-winning RBI by drawing the bases-loaded walk, before Menendez added two insurance runs with a two-RBI single to right field.
Rojas and the UCF defense once again held Utah State scoreless in the top of the seventh to clinch the season-opening victory.
The Knights return to action in the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament Saturday with contests against San Diego State and No. 1 UCLA at 5 p.m. ET and 10 p.m. ET, respectively. Fans can follow all the action at the event on UCFAthletics.com.
The Black and Gold will play 33 home games at the UCF Softball Complex, with season tickets for the 2011 season costing only $40. Tickets are available for purchase online at UCFAthletics.com and Ticketmaster.com, or by calling the UCF Athletics Ticket Office at (407) UCF-1000.
UCF hosts its 2011 home-opener Feb. 16 against North Florida at the UCF Softball Complex. UCF head football coach George O'Leary will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the contest, while the first 100 fans through the gate will receive a signed 2011 UCF softball schedule poster.