May 11, 2014
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By Nate Blythe
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HOUSTON, Texas (UCFKnights.com) - The UCF softball team took a 2-1 lead on single by freshman shortstop Brittany Solis in the second inning against Louisville in the finale of The American Championship on Sunday, but the tournament's most outstanding player Katie Keller, who went 2-for-2 with a home run, triple and two runs scored, was the difference in the Cardinals posting a 3-2 victory.
The game-winning run was scored by Jordan McNary following the second of her three hits on a wild pitch in the fifth inning with two outs at the Cougar Softball Stadium. The Cardinals earned the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
The Knights came back with hits notched by juniors outfielder Maddy Schroeder and second baseman Kahley Novak to open the bottom of the frame. A sac bunt from freshman outfielder Linnea Goodman moved the runners into scoring position.
Louisville's (37-20) Maryssa Becker, who improved to 13-8 and tossed six innings of relief with two strikeouts, kept the momentum in the Cardinals favor by forcing a pair of groundouts to end the threat.
UCF (41-17) was well represented on the all-tournament team with juniors third baseman Farrah Sullivan, pitcher Mackenzie Audas, sophomores outfielder Mariah Garcia and first baseman Samantha McCloskey.
Audas was magnificent in the circle for UCF with four strikeouts in the complete-game defeat. The Plant City native mixed speeds and kept the talented Louisville offense off balance.
To leadoff the second frame, Keller drilled a 3-2 pitch over the fence in right center for her third round tripper of the tournament.
The Knights bounced back as Garcia began a rally by drawing a walk. A double down the left field line by sophomore catcher Kalyn Cenal knotted the contest at one. Solis came through with a clutch base knock up the middle to put UCF up, 2-1.
Starting off the fourth inning was Keller with a triple down the left field line that got into the corner past a diving outfielder. She came around to score on a fielding miscue, 2-2, but the Knights turned a 6-4-3 double play to retire the side.
UCF, who won the program's first regular season title, is in strong position for an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament with a RPI of 26 on May 5. On a flight from Houston to Orlando, the Knights will find out their regional destination during the NCAA Selection Show, which starts at 10 p.m. ET on ESPNU.