Blanking the Bulls

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – With a national television audience tuning in on ESPNU, UCF notched a 2-0 victory against South Florida in the opening softball game of the War On I-4 Rivalry Series. Freshman Alea White recorded her third shutout of the season, limiting the Bulls to three hits.
"Pitching in the War on I-4 was fantastic, my blood was definitely rushing and I knew that I had to come out strong for my team," freshman Alea White said. "A shutout is always fantastic. I knew that I could pitch my stuff, because my defense was there behind me."
The Land O'Lakes, Fla., native punched out the side in the third frame and finished with the six strikeouts, one off her career best against Pittsburgh (2/12). White also moved to 15-11 on the campaign and helped UCF (22-18, 6-4 The American) post two points in the War on I-4 Rivalry Series, increasing its lead to 38-18.
"Alea mixed in a lot of changeups," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie. "Those changeups were working so well today, keeping them off-balance. She just did a great job."
One of the goals that coach Gillispie set heading into the game was striking first. That's exactly what her team did. Senior designated player Linnea Goodman and junior centerfielder Megan Greenwell led off the opening frame by reaching base.
After a sac bunt moved both runners into scoring position, an intentional walk issued to junior third baseman Courtney Rotton loaded the bases for freshman first baseman Jazmine Esparza with no outs.
"I battled all the way to a 3-2 count and knew that the next pitch was my pitch," Esparza said. "I'm going to bloop it in somewhere. All I need is a little poke. Sure enough, I came through with a base hit."
The single in front of the centerfielder provided the Knights with an early 1-0 lead on USF (25-20, 4-5 The American). UCF's opportunity to extend its lead was cut short after the Bulls turned an inning-ending double play.
The defensive star of the game was Rotton at third base, who made back-to-back diving catches on line outs to start the second inning. The Clermont, Fla., native also made an over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory in the fifth frame to put the second out on the board.
"Courtney has been fighting and working so hard at third base to lockdown that position," Gillispie said. "Today, she had the game of her life. She put everything into it and played the defense that we all know she can play."
UCF clung on to its one-run lead despite having a number of opportunities to extend its advantage. The Knights stranded seven runners through five frames.
"We came in [to the sixth inning] and knew that we needed one more insurance run to put us on top," Esparza said. "It provided us with a little more breathing room. Sure enough, we did. Linny came up with another little poke and came up clutch."
That base hit to left center by Goodman increased the lead to 2-0. Senior right fielder Willow Kalinen scored after reaching on a bunt single and stealing second base. 
Next Up
UCF continues the War on I-4 on Friday with the first pitch against South Florida set for 5:30 p.m.

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