Perez's 10th Inning Home Run Lifts UCF Softball to Win at North Florida


GO KNIGHTS Vanessa Perez's home run in the 10th inning gave UCF the win Wednesday night at North Florida.
GO KNIGHTS
Vanessa Perez's home run in the 10th inning gave UCF the win Wednesday night at North Florida.
GO KNIGHTS

Feb. 24, 2010

Box Score

UCF UCF at North Florida
Feb. 24, 2010
UCF
Jacksonville, Fla. (UNF Softball Complex)
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
UCF 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 5 10 3
North Florida 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 6 1

Game Notes
• WP: UCF - Ashleigh Cole (3-2)
• LP: UNF - Devyn Findley (2-7)
.
• The extra-inning affair at North Florida was the first for the Black and Gold this season.
Vanessa Perez's home run in the 10th inning was her first of 2010 and the second of her career.
• With three sacrifice bunts in the contest, sophomore Natalie Land tied the UCF record for sacrifice bunts in a game. She shares the distinction with fellow teammate Ashleigh Cole and former Knight Cici Alvarez.
Ashleigh Cole's 10 inning outing was only one out short of her career high for innings pitched in a game, which sits at 10.1 innings.
• Junior Abby McClain led off both the first and seventh innings with a double. The three-hit game is the second for the catcher in 2010, while the two-double performance is the fourth of her career.
• In her first collegiate at bat, Arielle Palafox laced her first career double to lead off the second inning.
Ashleigh Cole's RBI single in the second inning was her first of 2010.
• The win improved the Knights record to 6-2 in the all-time series vs. UNF, which includes a 2-0 clip in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - With the game knotted in the top of the 10th inning, sophomore Vanessa Perez (San Diego, Calif.) blasted a two-run home run over the left field wall to lift the UCF softball team to a, 5-3, victory over North Florida Wednesday night at the UNF Softball Complex.

"Even under extreme conditions, we fought hard and never lost the desire to find a way to win," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "I am very proud of the team for pulling out the win tonight and never giving up."

Perez saw more than 10 pitches in the at bat, before helping the Knights improve to 5-5 on the season with her first home run of the season and second of her career.

"Heading into that at bat (in the 10th inning), all I was thinking was that I wanted to help my team win the game and get us out of there," Perez said. "I probably hit myself with the ball three times during that at bat, and my hands were really hurting from the cold, but once I stepped into the box I didn't feel any pain and I just swung as hard as I could. When I realized that the ball went over the fence, at first I felt relief and then I got really excited because I saw how excited my teammates were."

On the night, Perez went 2-for-5 with a home run, while junior Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa) paced the Black and Gold offense with a 3-for-3 performance at the plate, which included two doubles, two runs scored and two walks.

"Abby's consistency at the plate was key for us," Luers-Gillispie said. "She reached base every time she was up and gave us a chance to win every time she did."

Senior Hillary Barrow (Miami, Fla.) added a RBI double, Arielle Palafox (Lakewood, Calif.) also had a double and Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.) posted a hit, a RBI and scored one run.

Despite not getting a hit in the contest, Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.) was a main component in the Knights' victory, as the shortstop totaled three sacrifice bunts for the visiting team. Land's three sacrifice bunts in the contest tied the UCF record for sacs in a game, a distinction she shares with Cole and former UCF third baseman Cici Alvarez.

Cole not only produced at the plate, but also threw a gem of a game for the Knights in the circle to earn her third win of the season. The hurler did not allow an earned run to the Ospreys, while giving up only six hits and striking out four in 10.0 innings of work. The 10.0 innings pitched for Cole was only one out short of her career high, which sits at 10.1 innings.

The Knights posted their first run of the contest in the second inning following a double to left field off the bat of Palafox and singles from both Morgan Bullard (Columbia, S.C.) and Cole.

The double for Palafox was the first hit of the rookie's career and also came in her first career at bat. The RBI for Cole was also the first for the senior in 2010.

"For Arielle to hit a double in her first collegiate at bat really shows the potential that she has," Luers-Gillispie said. "Not only the potential she has as a player, but the promise she brings to our team."

In the bottom half of the inning, the Ospreys took the lead after loading the bases and, with two outs, the Black and Gold committed a fielding error which allowed two runs to cross the plate.

An error committed by the Ospreys on a line drive to right field by Marissa Menendez (Tampa, Fla.) allowed the Knights to once again even the score. The inning started off with McClain reaching base on her second hit of the contest. The junior then moved into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt from Land. Menendez then hit a line drive to the right fielder, but the ball popped out of the fielder's glove, allowing McClain to score and placed Menendez on third base. But, the home team managed to get out of the inning giving up only the one run following a fielder's choice and a runner caught stealing.

McClain once again led off the inning with a double in the top of the seventh inning and advanced to third on Land's third sacrifice bunt of the game. With two outs in the inning, Barrow laced a double down the left field line to score McClain from third and put the Black and Gold ahead, 3-2, heading into the bottom of the seventh.

The lead would not hold up, however, as another fielding error by the Knights and a RBI single by UNF allowed the tying run to score with two outs.

The Ospreys threatened in the bottom of the eighth inning, as well, after loading the bases with one out, but a critical double play by UCF's defense got the squad out of the jam and extended the game into the ninth inning.

Neither team could get a run across in the ninth, but Perez's home run in the top of the 10th was what lifted UCF to a hard-earned victory.

The Black and Gold are back in action Feb. 26-28, when it takes part in the prestigious NFCA Leadoff Classic. During the event, the Knights will face off with Georgia Tech, Arkansas, Nebraska, Maryland and Alabama.

Season tickets for the 2010 season are only $40 and are on sale now, while single-game tickets are also available for purchase. Tickets can be purchased online at UCFAthletics.com or through the Athletics Ticket Office by calling (407) 823-1000.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.

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