UCF Softball Set to Host Third and Final Tournament of the Spring

March 3, 2011

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By Sarah Tarasewicz

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF softball team is set to host its third and final tournament of the season, the UCF/Courtyard by Marriott Invitational III, this weekend at the UCF Softball Complex, with the Knights scheduled to face South Alabama, Virginia Tech, Monmouth and Florida A&M.

The action kicks off for the Black and Gold Friday when it battles the Jaguars at 4 p.m., before closing out the opening day of competition vs. the Hokies at 6:30 p.m. Saturday's action opens for UCF at 4 p.m. when it takes on the Hawks, and its play in the tournament comes to an end that night with a 6:30 p.m. match-up vs. the Lady Rattlers.

South Alabama, Virginia Tech, Monmouth and Florida A&M will conclude play in the event Sunday, with the No. 3 seed facing the No. 4 seed, and the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds battling it out at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively.

The Knights are coming off a doubleheader split Tuesday in which they defeated Valparaiso, 6-1, and fell to No. 5 Michigan, 10-1, in six innings to move their record to 5-12 on the season. Junior Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.) paced the Knights at the plate by going 3-for-5 with a triple, two runs scored, two RBI and two stolen bases, and also extended her hitting streak to five games, while junior Allie Jest (Stone Mountain, Ga.) extended her team-best hitting streak to seven games with a hit against the Wolverines.

Land and Jest are both batting over .300 on the season, with Jest boasting a team-best .375 average and Land sitting in a close second with a .346 average.

Senior Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa) also had a big night offensively for the Black and Gold in the doubleheader, as the catcher hit her fourth home run in five days and also drove in two runs.

In the circle, junior Lacey Dinney (Binbrook, Ont.) picked up her second win of the year vs. the Crusaders, fanning 10 batters in her first-career complete-game performance. Dinney's 10 strikeouts in the contest were the most in a single game for a Knight since Kristina DeMello struck out 13 vs. Southern Miss on April 4, 2009.

On the season, Dinney paces UCF with a 3.11 ERA, 24 strikeouts and a .204 opponent batting average.

South Alabama enters the weekend with a 13-3 overall record after posting a perfect 5-0 record at the Ole Miss Red and Blue Classic last weekend. The Jaguars picked up wins over Louisiana Tech, Southeast Missouri, Austin Peay and Ole Miss at the event. Brittany Fowler has been South Alabama's biggest producer at the plate so far in 2011, posting team-bests with 24 hits, four doubles and 22 RBI, to go along with a .490 batting average.

UCF is 1-0 all-time vs. South Alabama, picking up a 3-2 win vs. the Jaguars at the Altamonte Springs Tournament in 2007.

Virginia Tech travels to Orlando with an 11-3 record after taking part in the Coastal Carolina Invitational last weekend. During the event, The Hokies tallied wins vs. Boston College, Rhode Island and Coastal Carolina, with its only loss of the weekend coming in extra innings vs. the host. Dani Anderson is Virginia Tech's leading hitter, as she boasts a .435 batting average with 20 hits, four doubles, 15 RBI and 10 runs scored.

The Knights are 0-1 all-time vs. the Hokies after falling to the squad, 2-1, in 2007 at the same Altamonte Springs Tournament in which they played South Alabama.

Monmouth opened its season last weekend at the Norfolk State Spartan Invitational, going 3-1 with wins over George Washington, Norfolk State and Morgan State. In the circle, Lauren Sulick was named the Akadema/NEC Pitcher of the Week after posting a 2-0 record, a 0.47 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 15.0 innings of work at the tournament.

Saturday will mark the first meeting between the Black and Gold and Monmouth.

Florida A&M makes the trip to the UCF Softball Complex with an 8-5 record on the year after sweeping Savannah State last weekend in a three-game MEAC series. Tera Gainer paces the Lady Rattlers at the plate with a .425 batting average, which includes three home runs and 13 RBI, while four additional players are batting over .300 for Florida A&M.

UCF is 6-4 all-time when facing the Lady Rattlers after falling to the squad earlier in the season on the road, 5-4.

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.