Softball Begins American Play Hosting Memphis



March 21, 2014

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By Nate Blythe

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ORLANDO, Fla. ( - The UCF Softball team takes the field at the UCF Softball Complex on Saturday for its American Athletic Conference opener against Memphis, a former Conference USA foe, in a 1 p.m. doubleheader. Sunday rounds out the three-game series at 11 a.m.

Fans are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite Star Wars character on Saturday to have a chance at winning a custom light saber and other prizes.

Admission to each home game is $5 for general and $3 for youth, seniors and faculty. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $2.

The Knights enter conference play with a 21-10 overall record and 19-5 mark at the UCF Softball Complex. Junior Mackenzie Audas and sophomore Mackenzie Huhn in the last game against Iona threw the program's first combined no-hitter in a 7-2 victory on March 18.

Despite dropping a tough 2-1 contest to Purdue, sophomore Shelby Turnier (12-2) has been dominant in the circle with 138 strikeouts in 92.1 innings of work. The Palm Beach Gardens native holds the season-long shutout streak in the NCAA at 39.1 innings in a stretch of shutouts from March 5-18.

UCF has found its offense over the past couple of weeks as four players have risen above the .300 mark. Junior outfielder Kahley Novak paces the team with a .358 avg. followed by sophomore first baseman Samantha McCloskey (.342), sophomore designated player Jessica Ujvari (.318) and freshman outfielder Linnea Goodman (.302).

Novak has been the offensive catalyst for the Knights, scoring a team-best 22 runs. The Knights leadoff hitter has reached back 42 times this season.

The base paths have been an area that the Knights have exploited with 79 thefts on the season. The 2.29 stolen bases per game ranks seventh in the March 17 national report.

The all-time series between UCF and Memphis is evened up at 12-12. Each meeting came in CUSA with the Knights holding a slight 4-3 lead in three-game sets.

The 2010 campaign saw the decisive finale cancelled, but the Knights did top Memphis 3-1 in the league tournament that year in Houston, Texas. Home teams have had the upper hand with UCF holding a 8-3 advantage in Orlando, while the Tigers at 8-3 in Memphis.

Memphis has tallied a 13-14 overall mark on the campaign with notable wins against Middle Tennessee (3-2), Boston College (5-3, 9-1), Bethune-Cookman (4-0), Jackson State (6-5, 8-0) and Arkansas Pine Bluff (8-3, 10-2).

Lindsey Crowdus leads the Tigers offense with a .413 batting avg., 18 runs scored and six triples. The top run producer has been Brittany Vaughn with 20 RBI on nine doubles and one home run.

In the circle, Ellen Roberts has toted a 7-7 mark with 74 strikeouts in 90.1 innings. A 5-5 mark has been registered by Christian Novak, who has fanned 51 in 64.2 frames.

UCF completes its 26-game homestand on Wednesday with a matchup against No. 1 Florida set for 6 p.m. at the UCF Softball Complex. Purchase advanced tickets here.



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