March 10, 2015
By Megan Herboth
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - The No. 20 UCF softball team collected a pair of wins over Mercer and South Dakota at the UCF Softball Complex on Tuesday afternoon. After topping Mercer 7-2, the Knights closed out the day with a 5-1 win over South Dakota.
"Huge wins for us in the midweek," UCF head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "We really need to get ourselves back into it again. It was two really big wins today."
Freshman Courtney Rotton put the Knights on top early in the first game, as her second home run of the season was a two-run shot over the wall in left field.
Junior Shelby Turnier struck out at least one batter in the first five innings of the game, finishing with seven strikeouts in six innings of work.
The Bears tied the game in the top of the fifth with a solo home run, but the Knights responded with a five-run fifth inning. Sophomore Willow Kalinen opened things up with a leadoff bunt. A pair of UCF batters were hit by pitches, loading the bases for the top of the lineup. Sophomore Linnea Goodman's single to left center pushed the go-ahead run across home plate and kept the bases loaded.
Novak worked a full count in her at-bat before walking in the next UCF run. A sacrifice fly and a pair of fielder's choices scored two more runs. Junior Samantha McCloskey's RBI single gave the Knights their fifth run of the inning and put the game out of reach.
Senior Mackenzie Audas tossed her ninth complete game of the season, tying her career high with 14 strikeouts. She pitched her sixth game of the season with 10 or more strikeouts.
"Whenever I'm on and I'm fooling the batters with whatever I'm throwing, it's less balls in play, so that always helps," Audas said.
After South Dakota took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second, UCF responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning. Junior Kalyn Cenal's leadoff single put in sophomore pinch runner Andrea Neswiacheny. A sacrifice bunt and a ground out moved her around to third base, and an errant throw allowed her to score.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, junior Jessica Ujavri put the Knights on top 2-1 her fourth home run of the season.
The Knights added insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Taylor Wagner's RBI single through the left side gave the Black and Gold a 3-1 lead. With two outs and a pair of runners on, senior Blaire Kelley drew a walk to load the bases for Goodman, whose hit through the right side scored a pair of runs.
Audas closed the game by striking out the side, bringing her career total to 826.
UCF Softball, which is presented by City Kia of Greater Orlando, is back in action on Wednesday, hosting a doubleheader against Northern Illinois. First pitch for the first game is slated for 10 a.m.