UCF Softball Hosts Florida State Wednesday for Annual Pack the Park Event

April 5, 2011

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By Sarah Tarasewicz

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF softball team is set to host its annual Pack the Park event Wednesday as it welcomes in-state rival Florida State to the UCF Softball Complex for a 6 p.m. contest. Miss Florida USA 2010, Megan Clementi, is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

The first 150 fans through the gate will receive a free complete pack of UCF softball player cards, while all spectators will also have the opportunity to take part in numerous additional promotions throughout the game, including UCF softball trivia and the UCF softball t-shirt toss.

Bright House Sports Network will air the contest live regionally on Bright House channel 47 for digital cable subscribers. Two-time Olympic Gold medalist Dot Richardson will serve as the color analyst for the showdown, while David Baumann will be on the call for play-by-play. Fans can also follow all the softball action live on Knights All-Access and on Gametracker at UCFAthletics.com.

The Knights are looking to Pack the Park and break their single-game home attendance record set last season when 1,091 UCF faithful watched as the Black and Gold went head-to-head with then-No. 6 Florida on March 31.

The match-up between the Knights and the Seminoles at the UCF Softball Complex has also proved to be popular in the past, as the previous UCF attendance record was set on April 9, 2008, when 687 fans came out to the ballpark to watch the in-state rivalry between UCF and FSU.

Since their rivalry began in 2002, UCF and Florida State have battled each other on the diamond 14 times, with the Seminoles holding a 10-4 advantage over the Knights. The squads last faced off in 2010, with UCF falling to FSU, 6-1, at the UCF Softball Complex. When playing in Orlando, the Black and Gold is 2-5 against the Seminoles.

The Knights enter the contest with a 12-22 record on the season and a 3-6 Conference USA mark after handing UAB its first league-loss of the year last weekend. In the win, senior Diana Rojas (Miami, Fla.) tossed her first-career complete-game shutout in the circle, while also striking out three batters.

Earlier in the week, Rojas pitched 2.2 innings of relief in UCF's come-from-behind victory vs. Kent State to pick up her second save of the season and claim the UCF all-time record with three-career saves. The hurler now ranks 26th nationally and third in C-USA in saves, and also leads the league in relief appearances.

Offensively, the Knights have three players batting over .300 heading into the contest with Florida State, with junior Natalie Land pacing the squad with a .347 average. She is followed closely by fellow junior Allie Jest (Stone Mountain, Ga.) with a .343 average, while senior Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) holds a .324 mark.

Along with senior Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa), who holds a .295 average, UCF's top-four batters have accounted for 75 runs, 124 hits, 46 RBI, 11 doubles, nine triples, and 10 home runs of the Knights' total offense. Among the four, Land is currently tied for the national lead with five triples, while also ranking 12th in NCAA Division I with a 0.15 triples-per-game average.

After their doubleheader at Jacksonville scheduled for Tuesday got rained out, the Seminoles enter Wednesday's game at the UCF Softball Complex with a 17-19 record on the season and a 3-6 ACC mark. Last weekend, Florida State lost its league series to Virginia Tech, 1-2. The Seminoles won their first game, 1-0, before falling in back-to-back extra-inning games, 1-2 (10) and 3-4 (8). FSU is batting .278 as a team, with four batters boasting a batting average over .300.

UCF is 1-3 this season when facing teams from the state of Florida. The Knights posted their lone win vs. Florida A&M at the Courtyard by Marriott Invitational III on March 5, after falling to the Rattlers on the road earlier in the year. The Black and Gold has also face North Florida twice, dropping both contests.

The Black and Gold has picked up all but one of its wins at the friendly confines of the UCF Softball Complex this season, holding an 11-15 record at its home park. Its only win away from the UCF Softball Complex was its opening-day victory vs. Utah State at the UCLA Tournament in Los Angeles, Calif.

After getting off to an unusually slow start in the first half of the 2011 season, Lane has really turned on the offensive fire power in the Knights' last 11 contests. Prior to starting the league portion of UCF's schedule, the speedy shortstop was batting .275 with only 14 hits and eight runs scored. Since UCF's C-USA opener vs. UTEP, Lane has hit .435 with 10 hits and six runs scored in just 11 games. Lane is also hitting a team-high .474 with nine hits and five runs scored in league play, improving her overall batting average to .324 on the year.