UCF Softball Unable to Hold Off No. 7/9 Alabama, 8-3

Feb. 21, 2014

Final Stats

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By Nate Blythe

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (UCFKnights.com) - UCF softball took a 3-1 lead on back-to-back doubles by sophomores designated player Shelby Turnier and catcher Kalyn Cenal in the third inning, but No. 7/9 Alabama came back with seven runs over the final two frames to notch an 8-3 victory at the Easton Bama Bash on Friday night.

The Crimson Tide (11-1) posted a three-run sixth to take the lead in the sixth and capped the scoring on a grand slam by Haylie McCleney, who went 3-for-3, an inning later.

Junior pitcher Mackenzie Audas, who fell to 4-2 on the year, threw a strong 4.1 innings of relief with four strikeouts to provide the Knights with a chance in the late innings.

Jackie Traina (3-1) picked up the complete-game victory with 10 strikeouts for the Crimson Tide

Alabama, the designated visiting team, started quickly with back-to-back doubles by Haylie McCleney and Danielle Richard pushed across the first run of the game. Sophomore pitcher Jamie Ujvari settled down and retired the Tide with a ground out and a pair of foul outs.

Head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie decided to bring in Audas during the second inning. The move worked as the Plant City, Fla., native retired the side in order.

An infield base hit by freshman shortstop Brittany Solis started a two-out rally. The West Hills, Calif., native stole second base prior to a walk drawn by sophomore first baseman Samantha McCloskey.

With a runner in scoring position, junior outfielder Maddy Schroeder singled up the middle just past the diving shortstop to put the Knights on the board, 1-1. UCF had two runners in scoring position, but Traina escaped the jam with a strikeout.

The Knights took the lead in the third inning as junior outfielder Kahley Novak began the rally with a lead-off single. A sacrifice by freshman outfielder Linnea Goodman moved Novak into scoring position.

With two outs, Turnier doubled to left center to put the Knights on top, 2-1. A double to right center by Cenal extended the UCF lead to 3-1.

The Tide pressured Audas in the fourth as Traina one-hopped the wall in left center for a double and Case dropped in a blooper in left center. A sac bunt moved the runners into scoring position with two outs. Audas retired the side by jamming McCleney into a lineout to second.

In the fifth, Alabama loaded the bases with two out on a hit batter, bloop single and walk. Audas was up to the challenge forcing a ground ball that junior third baseman Farrah Sullivan kept from going down the line and tagged third to end the threat.

Alabama showed its poise in the sixth as Kallie Case led off the frame with a triple and following a walk, Richard tied the game on a two-RBI double to right, 3-3. The Tide took the lead on a fielder's choice short by Spencer, who ran towards second and an errant throw by the pitcher brought home the go-ahead run.

A pair of walks drawn by Solis and Schroeder with two outs in the sixth put pressure on Traina, who responded with a strikeout to end the frame.

UCF returns to action at the Easton Bama Bash on Saturday with a doubleheader at Alabama and vs. McNeese State beginning at 5 p.m. The three-day event concludes for the Knights on Sunday at 12 p.m. against Virginia Tech.

The crowd of 2,633 at Rhoads Stadium was the largest to watch a Knights' softball game. The announced attendance topped the previous mark of 1,812 against Florida in the 2008 Gainesville Regional Final on May, 18.

The Knights return to the UCF Softball Complex on Feb. 28 for a doubleheader against SIUE and Princeton at 10 a.m. The Holiday Inn/UCF Tournament continues on Mar. 1 with College of Charleston and SIU facing UCF.



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