Thrilling Comeback Lifts UCF Softball to 11-inning Victory over Monmouth


March 5, 2011

Box Score

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By Sarah Tarasewicz

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Senior Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa) matched her career-high with three hits, tallied a career-best four RBI, scored a pair of runs and hit the game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to spark the UCF (5-14) softball team to a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Monmouth, 11-10, in 11 innings Saturday night at the UCF/Courtyard by Marriott Invitational III at the UCF Softball Complex.

The Knights' 11 runs vs. the Hawks (3-5) were the most scored by the squad since scoring 12 runs on May 8, 2010 at UTEP. UCF also posted a season-high 12 hits in the extra-inning affair, which included three hits from senior Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) and two hits apiece from junior Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.) and sophomore Patrice Fee (Cocoa, Fla.).

Land had a double, a sacrifice hit and scored a career-high three runs in her two-hit performance, while Fee hit her third home run and third triple of the year, and added a RBI and one run scored in the win.

Junior Allie Jest (Stone Mountain, Ga.) extended her hitting streak to 10 games with her single in the sixth inning, and also scored a career-best three runs and drew a walk, while fellow junior Vanessa Perez (San Diego, Calif.) posted a hit, scored a run and had the game-tying RBI with her sacrifice fly in the 10th inning.

UCF used three different pitchers in the contest, with junior Lacey Dinney (Binbrook, Ont.) entering the game in the sixth inning and earning the win to improve to 3-3 on the year. The hurler struck out eight batters and walked only one, while giving up three hits and an unearned run in 5.2 innings pitched.

Senior Ashley Schmitt (Tampa, Fla.) started the game in the circle for the Black and Gold, allowing four runs on five hits in 0.2 innings of work. Fellow senior Diana Rojas (Miami, Fla.) threw 4.2 innings of relief, giving up two earned runs on four hits, with two walks and a strikeout.

The Knights fell down by four runs in the top of the first inning, but cut the Hawks' lead to one in the bottom of the frame thanks to a pair of walks, two Monmouth errors and a RBI single by McClain. Jest led off the frame with a walk, before stealing second and third base. With two outs, a fielding error by the Hawks' shortstop allowed Jest to score and keep the inning alive. A passed ball by the catcher moved Land to third base and McClain's single to right field allowed her to touch home safely. Marissa Menendez (Tampa, Fla.) walked to put two runners on base, before a throwing error by the pitcher lit up the scoreboard for the third time in the frame.

With two runs in the top of the second inning, the Hawks extended their lead to three runs, 6-3, but Fee made the score 6-4 in the home half of the frame when she led off the inning with a solo home run over the left field fence.

Rojas and the Knights' defense held Monmouth scoreless in the third, and the offense continued to close the gap on the visiting squad as a single run in the frame brought the Black and Gold to within one run of evening the game. A leadoff double to deep centerfield by Land started things off, before McClain's single brought Land around to score for her second RBI of the contest.

Neither team posted a run in the fourth or fifth innings, but Monmouth extended its advantage to three runs with two scores in the top of the sixth. The Knights continued to chip away at the Hawks' lead late in the game, however, as two runs in the bottom of the sixth frame brought the home team to within two runs. A one-out single by Perez ignited the Knights' bats, before back-to-back, two-out singles by Jest and Lane, and an error by the Monmouth left fielder, brought two runs in safely.

After holding the Hawks scoreless in the top of the seventh, the Black and Gold had one last opportunity to rally for the win in the bottom of the frame, with the heart of the lineup coming to the plate. Land reached base on a fielding error by the pitcher to lead off the inning, before McClain delivered a two-run home run that cleared the left field fence to knot the contest, 9-9, and send the game into extra innings.

Due to the international tie-breaker rule, each team started their half of the inning with a runner at second base beginning in the eighth.

Dinney was able to pitcher way out of the top of the eighth unscathed, posting a strikeout with runners on second and third, and the defense did its job in the ninth to keep the game tied.

Monmouth scored a run in the top of the 10th, but the Knights answered back in the home half of the frame with a run of their own thanks to a sacrifice bunt by Kellie Todd (Ocala, Fla.) and a sacrifice fly by Perez that allowed Menendez to score from third base and keep UCF's chances alive.

In the 11th, the Knights' defense once again came up big by holding the Hawks scoreless, and gave the Black and Gold offense a prime opportunity to put the game away, and it did just that. With Jest starting the frame at second base, Lane laid down a bunt single that advanced Jest to third. Lane proceeded to run to second base on the play and when Monmouth's defense attempted to get Lane out, Jest took off for home and beat the throw to the plate to score the game winning run.

The Knights have 20 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.