May 4, 2010
By Sarah Tarasewicz
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Playing on its home field for the last time in 2010, the UCF softball team used an impressive offensive performance from senior Hillary Barrow (Miami, Fla.) and another solid outing from fellow senior Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.) in the circle to shutout visiting Jacksonville, 3-0, Tuesday afternoon at the UCF Softball Complex.
Barrow was a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate with a double, two RBI and a walk. With her pair of RBI in the contest, the senior improved her already team-best RBI total to 30 on the year.
"We worked really hard during our off-week to improve on some things offensively," Barrow said. "It proved to have an impact on our hitting today."
Cole proved once again why she is amongst the best in the nation on the mound for UCF, holding the Dolphins scoreless, while allowing only four hits and striking out eight to earn not only her fifth shutout of 2010, but her 19th victory.
"This has been Cole's best year of her career," Barrow said. "She has become a great leader. I think it shows the pitchers already in the program and the pitchers who will sign in the future what a strong leader looks like on the mound."
The win also improved the Knights' record to 30-20 on the season, while giving the Black and Gold at least 30 wins in a season for the sixth time in program history.
"This win gives us a lot of momentum heading into a tough Conference USA series with UTEP this weekend," Barrow said. "We know we are going to have to sweep the Miners, because not only do we want to win the postseason tournament, but we want to have a shot at winning the regular-season title too."
Following two full innings of scoreless softball to open the contest, the Knights put a single run across in the bottom of the third inning on a two-out single by Barrow. Tiffany Lane
(Moreno Valley, Calif.) and Natalie Land
(Mayo, Fla.) got the offense rolling with back-to-back two-out singles in the frame, before Barrow battled her way to her 29th RBI of the season in a foul-ball extended at bat.
Land was nearly flawless at the plate for the Black and Gold in the contest. The sophomore went 2-for-3 with one run scored, while Lane added a hit and a run for the home team.
Barrow added to her team-best RBI total in the fifth inning when she drilled a double to left centerfield to bring Land in to score all the way from first base. The run extended the Knights' lead to two, 2-0.
Jacksonville threatened to even up the game in the top of the sixth with runners on second and third with no outs, but Cole and the defense was able to work their way out of the jam with a pop-up, a strikeout and a groundout to third base.
"I knew that my defense was willing to do anything in their power to help me out of that jam," Cole said. "We know that we are always capable of getting out of those tough situations."
Senior Mary Helen Tyler (Marianna, Fla.) posted a one-out single to open the sixth frame, before moving to second base on a putout to the shortstop. With Tyler in scoring position, fellow upperclassman Morgan Bullard (Columbia, S.C.) was able to rip a shot through the right side to give the Knights a three-run advantage.
"When Mary Helen got on base, I knew I was in a position to help give Cole an extra cushion heading into the seventh inning," Bullard said. "Ashleigh's done a really great job this year and we all wanted to do what we could to help her get the win in our last game here."
In their final game at the UCF Softball Complex, UCF's four seniors combined for five of the team's nine hits, all three RBI and one run scored. Adding to the offense, Cole also wrapped up her time at UCF with the win in the circle after striking out the side in the top of the seventh inning.
"Being able to strike out the side in my final game at this field was a great way to go out," Cole said. "When I look back, that is how I will always remember it."
The Knights return to C-USA action this weekend when they travel to El Paso, Texas, to take on UTEP in a three-game series at Helen of Troy Stadium. The action kicks off Saturday at 2 p.m. ET with a doubleheader, before the regular-season schedule comes to a close Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
The UCF softball team is set to compete in the Conference USA Championship hosted by Houston on May 13-15. The top eight teams in league standings will participate in the single-elimination tournament, with the winning team earning C-USA's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
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.