UCF Softball Renews Rivalry with South Florida



April 10, 2014

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By Nate Blythe

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - Eight years have passed since rivals, UCF and South Florida, have met on the softball field during the regular season. The two in-state foes are set to meet in a three-game American Athletic Conference series at the USF Softball Stadium that begins with a 1 p.m. Saturday doubleheader.

There have been two program-defining postseason meetings since April 12, 2006, a 3-1 UCF win, involving the two teams in Gainesville. The Knights in their most storied season in school history finished runner-up to Florida at the 2008 NCAA Regional after defeating USF, 3-2.

The Bulls had a memorable run of their own after edging the Knights, 1-0, in the 2012 NCAA Regional. USF went on to win that regional before falling to Hofstra in a super regional that it hosted.

Two of the top pitching staffs not just in the conference, but in the nation are set to meet this weekend in Tampa. USF (29-11, 3-3) paces the nation in strikeouts with 348, while UCF (28-12, 5-1) is one behind after the 11-strikeout performance by junior Mackenzie Audas in the 1-0 shutout at Stetson.

"Our players are excited to renew the in-state rivalry with USF," said head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie. "We have typically only met them in regionals, so it is nice to be in the same conference and face USF on an annual basis. This is the first opportunity for us to play in their beautiful facility [that opened in 2011]."

With a 5-1 mark in The American, the Knights are beginning a stretch of facing top 50 RPI teams in USF (44), Louisville (40) and Houston (36) in consecutive weeks. The Bulls are coming off being swept at home by Louisville and head to first-place Houston on April 18.

UCF has a strong one-two punch in the circle with sophomore Shelby Turnier (15-4) and Audas (12-8). Turnier has the top ERA in The American at 1.19 and has fanned 168 in 117.2 frames. Audas has tossed 126 innings with 145 punchouts and 1.72 ERA.

Sara Nevins (17-6), who has a 1.42 ERA, is the ace of the Bulls staff with the ninth-most strikeouts in the nation at 189 in 128 innings of work. A 9-5 mark has been tallied by Erica Nunn, who has recorded 112 strikeouts in 87.1 frames.

A pair of juniors third baseman Farrah Sullivan and outfielder Kahley Novak are riding 15- and 14-game reached base streaks to pace the Knights. Sullivan has blasted solo homers in 1-0 wins over Memphis and Stetson, while Novak leads the squad with 49 hits and 31 runs scored.

USF has a more explosive offense with seniors Ashli Goff (.382), Stephanie Medina (.333) and Kourtney Salvarola (.320) leading the way. Salvarola has tallied team-bests in runs scored (31), home runs (11) and RBI (24).

Fans can listen to each game of the series with a subscription to UCF All-Access or follow the action on their mobile devices with Gametracker. Pay-per-view video is also available through Bulls Cast.

A five-game road trip wraps up for the Knights on Tuesday with a trip to Daytona Beach to battle Bethune-Cookman at 4 p.m. UCF hosts Louisville in a series that begins on Friday, April 18 with a doubleheader at 3 p.m.



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