April 15, 2011
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF softball team looks to return to its winning ways this weekend as it is set to tangle with Marshall in a three-game Conference USA series at the UCF Softball Complex. The Knights will battle the Thundering Herd Saturday in a 12 p.m. doubleheader, before concluding the series Sunday at 11 a.m.
The Black and Gold looks to bounce back from its loss to Bethune-Cookman Wednesday on the road, and welcomes its return to the friendly confines of the UCF Softball Complex this weekend. The squad has posted 12 of its 15 victories on its home field this season, with its only true road wins coming at East Carolina last weekend.
With their pair of wins vs. the Pirates in Greenville, the Knights improved their C-USA record to 5-7 on the year and moved to sixth place in the league standings, while they also enter this weekend's series with a 15-24 overall record.
Senior Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) leads UCF at the plate in league-only contests this season, as she boasts a .393 batting average, 11 hits and a .464 batting average against C-USA foes. Junior Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.) has also had success against her league counterparts, tallying a .355 average with 11 hits, seven runs scored, two doubles, nine walks and a .512 on-base percentage.
In the circle, senior Diana Rojas (Miami, Fla.) holds a 2-3 record and a 1.04 ERA in league competition this season to lead the Knights. The hurler posted both of her shutouts in 2011 against C-USA teams, while allowing only six earned runs with 20 strikeouts and holding her opponents to a .212 batting average in 40.1 innings pitched.
Marshall enters the series vs. the Knights with an identical 15-24 overall record, but all but one of the visitor's wins have come in non-conference play, as the Thundering Herd is 1-10 when playing in league contests. Marshall's only C-USA win came at home against East Carolina back on March 20.
The Thundering Herd has struggled in the circle this season, as it boasts a team ERA of 4.34. Natalee Pulver has seen the most time on the mound for Marshall with 100.1 innings pitched and has picked up seven of her team's wins, but Andi Williamson holds a team-best 3.22 ERA and 76 strikeouts for her team. On the offensive side of the ball, Rebecca Gamby and Jazmine Valle lead the Thundering Herd with 28 hits apiece.
The Knights are 13-7 all-time when facing off with Marshall, which includes a 5-2 record in Orlando. In 2010, UCF swept the Thundering Herd in its three-game league series in Huntington, W.Va., by outscoring the home team 18-5 behind a 5-for-10 outing at the plate by Lane and a stellar performance in the circle by Ashleigh Cole.