One Up, One Down

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - Saturday was a learning day for the youthful UCF softball program as they split their two games of the season at the UCF Softball Complex, first falling to Texas Tech, 6-2, and then rebounding against Florida A&M, 2-1.

The story of the first game was missed opportunities as the Knights left 10 runners on in scoring position in a 6-2 loss to the Red Raiders.

UCF was the first to get on the board with freshman Kaitlyn Jensen driving in senior Megan Greenwell, who led off the first inning with a triple down the right field line. Courtney Rotton followed with a one-out double to center, putting runners on second and third, but the Knights were unable to plate any additional runs.

A similar situation happened in the second with two runners stalling in scoring position, which hurt come the top of the third when Texas Tech scored three runs, all with two outs.

Jensen answered in the bottom of the inning, hitting a leadoff home run over the left field fence for her first career homer. UCF's lineup followed suit, loading the bases in the ensuing at bats, but again, the Black and Gold were unable to capitalize.

"It's frustrating when you get runners on but can't drive them in," said Renee Luers-Gillispie. "But we are a young team, and we have to learn how to get hits in those clutch situations."

The Red Raiders made the Knights pay the next frame, engineering another two-out rally and adding two more runs.

UCF's offense went stagnate the rest of the way, while TTU notched another run in the seventh, posting a final score of 6-2.

The nightcap was a game of will power for the Knights as they grinded out a win over the Rattlers, 2-1.

FAMU (2-6) jumped out to an early lead, scoring a run in the first inning, but UCF would respond in the third behind the bat of Denali Schappacher.

The freshman streamed a one-out triple down the right field line, giving the Knights their first true scoring chance of the game. After a Greenwell bunt single, Schappacher would advance home on a snapback through to third that sailed into left field, evening the game at one all.

Damara Begin would keep Florida A&M off the board the remainder of the game to earn her second win of the season and first career complete game. The sophomore allowed just one run on six hits and struck out a pair of batters.

"Damara really battled tonight in the circle for us," said Gillispie. "It was great to see her get her first career complete game, and we will need more performances like tonight from her this season."

UCF's offense would also be kept at bay for nearly the rest of the game, but the bats came alive in the bottom of the sixth, plating the winning run.

Jensen leadoff the inning with a hard fought walk and would be pinch ran for by Erin Emanuel. The ensuing batter was Rotton, who singled the center, and Emanuel blazed around the bases, ending up at third with no outs. The junior college transfer would be driven in on a sacrifice fly by Jazmine Esparza, putting the Knights up 2-1.

The Rattlers would put pressure in the top of the seventh with one runner on first and one out, but following a single to right, UCF charted a double play with Greenwell tossing out a runner at third and Rotten doubling up the batter trying to stretch a single to a double.

"We knew coming into this game that it would be a scrappy game, and we would have to grind it out," Gillispie said. "I'm proud of how we competed and put our heads down after a tough first game. We will learn from games like today and be better for it later on in the season."

The Knights take Sunday off before returning to action at UCF Softball Complex on Monday for a 3 p.m. tilt against Hofstra.