March 1, 2011
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF softball team split a mid-week doubleheader Tuesday at the UCF Softball Complex by defeating Valparaiso, 6-1, in the opening contest, before falling to No. 5 Michigan, 10-1, in six innings in the nightcap.
"Jumping out early in the game against Valparaiso gave us a big confidence boost," junior Natalie Land said after the game. "We scored two runs in the first inning and we didn't stop there. Before, we used to score early and then kind of settle, but in that game we just kept pounding away runs and came away with a great victory."
The Black and Gold moved its record to 5-12 on the season with the split, while the Crusaders fell to 5-6 overall and the Wolverines improved to a flawless 17-0.
Game One - UCF 6, Valaparaiso 1
Junior hurler Lacey Dinney (Binbrook, Ont.) allowed only one run on four hits and struck out 10 batters in her first-career complete-game outing to help the UCF softball team defeat Valparaiso, 6-1, in the squad's opening game Tuesday at the UCF Softball Complex.
"I had a really good warm-up and I went out there feeling strong. I was trying not to think too much," Dinney said of her performance. "I was just trying to throw my game and take it one pitch at a time and it was successful."
Dinney's 10 strikeouts in the contest were the most in a single game for a Knight since Kristina DeMello fanned 13 vs. Southern Miss on April 4, 2009.
At the plate, Land went 2-for-2 with a triple and two runs scored and senior Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa) hit her fourth home run of the season, while adding two RBI, to lead the Knights offensively.
"I was just trying to get something started in that at-bat," McClain said of her home run. "I was leading off the inning and I knew that I needed to get on base. It just happened to go my way and go over the fence."
The Knights put two runs on the board in the first inning to take an early lead on the Crusaders. Jest led off the frame with a single up the middle of the infield, before Land drove her in with a triple to right centerfield. Land would eventually score on a RBI putout to the right side off the bat of Tawny Swan (Gilbert, Ariz.).
Valparaiso cut UCF's lead to one run in the top of the second inning with a single run, but the Black and Gold earned that run back and added another in the bottom of the fourth. McClain led off the frame with a home run over the centerfield wall, before a wild pitch allowed Todd to score from third base to extend UCF's lead to three runs. Todd reached earlier in the inning on a double to left field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Lindsey Palulis (Orlando, Fla.) before the wild pitch.
Two more runs would come across to score for the Black and Gold in the fifth after Jest reached on a dropped third strike and advanced to second on a bunt single by Land. The pair stole second and third base to move into scoring position and a fielder's choice and a ground out allowed both to score, extending the Knights' lead to five runs, 6-1, which would be the final score.
Game Two - UCF 1, No. 5 Michigan 10 (6 innings)
Land once again paced the UCF offense in the nightcap vs. No. 5 Michigan, as the junior drove in the Knights' only run in the contest, while going 1-for-3 with a stolen base.
Jest, Menendez, McClain, Vanessa Perez (San Diego, Fla.) and Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) each posted hits against the Wolverines as well, with Lane scoring UCF's lone run in the third inning.
Senior Diana Rojas (Miami, Fla.) was tagged with the loss in the circle, falling to 3-4 on the season. Rojas allowed three earned runs on seven hits and walked four in 4.0 innings of work. Senior Ashley Schmitt (Tampa, Fla.) threw 1.0 inning of relief, giving up one run on one hit with two walks.
Dinney would close out the contest in the circle for the Black and Gold, allowing three runs on one hit, while walking three and striking out two in 1.0 inning of relief.
The visiting team went up on the Knights early, scoring three runs in the second inning, but Land cut the Wolverines' lead to two runs in the bottom of the third with a RBI single down the right field line that scored Lane from second base. Lane led off the frame with an infield single and moved to second on a putout.
Michigan would put three more runs on the board in the top of the fourth inning, extending its lead to five runs, before adding another run in the top of the fifth inning to go up, 7-1. The Wolverines brought three more runs across in the top of the sixth to make the score 10-1 and cut the game short due to the eight-run mercy rule.
The Knights return to action this weekend when they host the UCF/Courtyard by Marriott Invitational III at the UCF Softball Complex. UCF will face South Alabama, Virginia Tech, Monmouth and Florida A&M during the event.
The Knights have 21 home games remaining on their 2011 schedule, with season tickets for the 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.