March 30, 2011
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF (12-22, 3-6 C-USA) softball team will make a mid-week trip to Daytona Beach Thursday as it is set to play Bethune-Cookman in non-conference action at 4 p.m. at Sunnyland Park.
The Knights enter the contest with a 12-22 record on the season and a 3-6 Conference USA mark after handing UAB its first league-loss of the year last weekend. In the win, senior Diana Rojas (Miami, Fla.) tossed her first-career complete-game shutout in the circle, while also striking out three batters.
Earlier in the week, Rojas pitched 2.2 innings of relief in UCF's come-from-behind victory vs. Kent State to pick up her second save of the season. The hurler now ranks 26th nationally and third in C-USA in saves, and also leads the league in relief appearances.
Offensively, the Knights have three players batting over .300 heading into the contest with Bethune-Cookman, with junior Natalie Land pacing the squad with a .347 average. She is followed closely by fellow junior Allie Jest (Stone Mountain, Ga.) with a .343 average, while senior Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) holds a .324 mark.
Along with senior Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa), who holds a .295 average, UCF's top-four batters have accounted for 75 runs, 124 hits, 46 RBI, 11 doubles, nine triples, and 10 home runs of the Knights' total offense. Among the four, Land is currently tied for the national lead with five triples, while also ranking 12th in NCAA Division I with a 0.15 triples-per-game average.
Land was one of three Knights to post two hits against the Wildcats last season as the Black and Gold defeated visiting Bethune-Cookman, 7-4, at the UCF Softball Complex to improve its record to 15-4 all-time in 19 meetings between the two programs.
The Wildcats entertain UCF with a 12-20 record on the year after splitting a doubleheader at Jacksonville Tuesday. Bethune-Cookman won the first game, 5-1, before falling to the Dolphins, 6-5, in the nightcap. Sophomore Michelle Banuelos-Smith leads the Wildcats offensively with a .360 batting average, 32 hits and nine doubles, while ranking second with 20 RBI. Allison Garcia has seen the most time in the circle for B-CU, boasting a 7-8 record and a 4.54 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 119.0 innings pitched.
When traveling to Daytona Beach, the Knights are 5-2 all-time, which includes two-straight wins at Sunnyland Park in 2008 and 2009.
Following its non-conference game Thursday, UCF will have the weekend off from conference play, before entertaining Florida State April 6 at the UCF Softball Complex live on Bright House Sports Network. Megan Clementi, Miss Florida USA 2010, will toss out the ceremonial first pitch at 6 p.m.