UCF Softball Earns Doubleheader Sweep at East Carolina, Wins C-USA Series

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April 9, 2011

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By Sarah Tarasewicz

GREENVILLE, N.C. (UCFAthletics.com) - Behind a pair of strong pitching performances from both senior Diana Rojas (Miami, Fla.) and junior Lacey Dinney (Binbrook, Ont.), the UCF softball team clinched its first Conference USA series win vs. East Carolina with a doubleheader sweep Saturday afternoon at the ECU Softball Complex. The Knights won the opening contest, 1-0, in 11 innings, before closing out the day with a 3-2 win in eight innings in the nightcap.

"Both Diana and Lacey did a great job of being able to throw a pair of complete games and keeping their composure into the late innings," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "The players really showed their heart and determination today. Being able to redeem ourselves with our first league-series win against East Carolina after last year's heartbreaking loss in the C-USA Championship just shows how much drive we have heading into the latter part of the season."

UCF improved to 15-22 on the season and 5-6 in league play with the pair of wins, while the Pirates fell to 28-13 overall and 8-6 in C-USA action heading into Sunday's 12 p.m. series finale.

Game One - UCF 1, East Carolina 0 (11 innings) | Box Score
Behind an 11.0-inning complete-game shutout performance by Rojas and a RBI single by Patrice Fee (Cocoa, Fla.) in the 11th inning, the Black and Gold tallied its first-ever road win at East Carolina, 1-0, in the opening game of the doubleheader.

Rojas had a career-day in the circle at the newly built ECU Softball Complex, picking up her third win in her last four starts to improve to 6-7 on the year. In the outing, Rojas posted career-bests with 11.0 innings pitched and six strikeouts, while giving up only three hits, to earn her second-straight complete-game shutout in league play.

"It felt absolutely amazing to beat ECU today," Rojas said. "We haven't beat them since Abby (McClain), Tiffany (Lane) and I have been here, so if felt awesome to finally beat them, especially in the way we did."

The win was the Knights' first true road victory of 2011 and their first tally in the win column vs. ECU since March 9, 2008, which was the last time the Black and Gold posted an earned run vs. the Pirates. UCF also posted its first win vs. ECU-ace Toni Paisley and scored its first earned run against the hurler with its run in the 11th inning.

Paisley and Rojas battled in an epic pitcher's duel through the first 10 innings of play, with Rojas giving up only one hit through seven innings of regulation softball, until the Knights finally dialed Paisley's number in the top of the 11th inning.

Sophomore Marissa Menendez (Tampa, Fla.) led off the frame with a single up the middle of the infield and advanced to the top of the diamond on a groundout back to the pitcher. With Menendez in scoring position, Fee once again came through for the Black and Gold with a RBI single down the right field line to score the first run of the game and give the Knights a 1-0 lead.

Fee also posted the game-tying RBI double down the left field line Wednesday in the Black and Gold's thrilling come-from-behind victory over in-state rival Florida State

A leadoff double to right centerfield off the bat of ECU's Alex Fieldhouse threatened to erase UCF's lead in the bottom of the inning, but a groundout and back-to-back strikeouts by Rojas cemented the Knights' win.

Along with Fee and Menendez, Tawny Swan (Gilbert, Ariz.), Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.) and Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) also posted hits in the contest, with Land and Lane each stealing a base. Allie Jest (Stone Mountain, Ga.) also laid down a sacrifice bunt against the Pirates.

Game Two - UCF 3, East Carolina 2 (8 innings) | Box Score
Dinney allowed two runs on nine hits with six strikeouts in a career-high 8.0 innings pitched, while Menendez was 2-for-3 with two RBI in the nightcap to post the win and complete the doubleheader sweep.

Land also went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored for the Knights, while Fee added a hit and a RBI in the contest. Lane, McClain, Swan and Jest each added hits to pace UCF to the win, with Land, Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa) and Kellie Todd (Ocala, Fla.) all laying down sacrifice bunts. Todd also scored a run vs. the Pirates.

Fee tallied her second RBI of the day in the top of the second inning with a single to right field that scored Todd from third base. Todd reached earlier in the frame after drawing a walk and moved to second on a single by Menendez. Todd tagged on a pop up to the second baseman in right centerfield, before Fee brought her in with her opposite-field knock.

Dinney continued to hold the Pirates scoreless through four full innings, but the home team managed to score its first run of the day in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out double and a RBI triple to right centerfield.

The deadlock did not last long, however, as the Knights' offense went back to work in the top of the sixth. Land and McClain led off the frame with back-to-back singles and both advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Todd. Menendez then sent a sacrifice fly down the left field line to allow Land to touch home safely and give the lead back to the visitors.

East Carolina once again evened the score in the bottom of the seventh on a one-out triple and a pinch-hit RBI single by Sissy Jimenez to send the nightcap into extra innings.

Land led off the top of the eighth with a single to right field and moved into scoring position on a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by McClain. Menendez then laced a RBI single to centerfield which allowed Land to score the go-ahead run from second.

The Pirates threatened to tie the game in the home half of the frame when Fieldhouse posted a leadoff double to left field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Dinney and the UCF defense held on to post the doubleheader sweep.

Fans can follow all of the action of Sunday's series finale on UCFAthletics.com