UCF Softball Hosts UCF/Courtyard by Marriott Invitational I This Weekend

Feb. 17, 2011

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By Sarah Tarasewicz

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF (1-4) softball team continues a five-game home stretch this weekend when it hosts the UCF/Courtyard by Marriott Invitational I at the UCF Softball Complex. The event, which is the first of the Knights' three home tournaments this season, will pit the Black and Gold against UIC, Notre Dame, Miami (Ohio) and Delaware.

UCF opens action Friday afternoon with a 4:30 p.m., meeting against the Flames, before wrapping up the opening day of the tournament with a 7 p.m., showdown with the Fighting Irish. UCF head cheerleading coach Linda Gooch will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the contest vs. Notre Dame.

On Saturday, the Knights will face the RedHawks at 2 p.m., and conclude their play in the invitational at 7 p.m., vs. the Blue Hens.

The Black and Gold will not compete in the tournament Sunday, but the four visiting squads will duke it out one last time to close out the weekend. The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds in the event will play at 9:30 a.m., while the No. 1 and No. 2 squads will face-off at 11:30 a.m.

UCF was tripped up in its home-opener Wednesday by North Florida, falling 2-0 despite getting a solid performance in the circle from freshman Haley Douglas (Pleasanton, Calif.). The hurler allowed only two runs on seven hits and struck out four in 6.2 innings of work, but ended up getting tagged with her second loss of the season.

Offensively, junior Allie Jest (Stone Mountain, Ga.) extended her hitting to five games after posting one of the Knights' four hits against the Ospreys. The third baseman leads the Black and Gold in batting average (.500), runs (4), hits (9), triples (1), total bases (12), slugging percentage (.667), on-base percentage (.526) and stolen bases (3).

Jest will look to move her streak to six games when UCF opens the tournament vs. UIC Friday. The Flames travel to Orlando with a 3-2 record on the year after participating in the Sportco Kickoff Classic hosted by UNLV last weekend. UIC defeated Mississippi State, UNLV and UC Riverside during the event led by Melinda Macias' seven-hit performance at the plate. The Knights defeated the Flames, 9-1, in the squads' only previous meeting in 2009 at the UCF Softball Complex.

UIC is the only team in the tournament besides UCF to have played a contest in 2011, as Notre Dame, Miami (Ohio) and Delaware will be seeing their first action of the season during the UCF/Courtyard by Marriott Invitational.

The Fighting Irish concluded the 2010 season with a 47-12 overall record, the BIG EAST regular-season title after posting an 18-3 league mark and a trip to the NCAA Regional Tournament. Notre Dame returns seven All-BIG EAST honorees to its lineup in 2011, including BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year Jody Valdivia and third team All-American shortstop Katie Fleury. The Knights and the Fighting Irish will meet for the first time Friday night.

Miami (Ohio) wrapped up its 2010 campaign with a 33-24 record and a 14-8 MAC clip. The RedHawks offense will be led by its two top hitters from a year ago, senior Meghan Mawn and junior Daniela Torres, both of whom earned All-MAC honors last season. UCF holds a 1-0 advantage over Miami (Ohio) in the all-time series, defeating the RedHawks, 6-3, in its 2007 season-opener at the FAU Tournament.

Delaware went 20-30-1 overall last season and finished sixth in the Colonial Athletic Association with an 8-13 league mark. The Blue Hens return nine letterwinners and seven starters from last year's squad, including All-CAA honorees Jenny Richards and Amanda Stacevicz. The Black and Gold and Delaware will be meeting on the softball field for the first time Saturday.

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.