UCF Softball Drops a Pair of League Contests at Marshall

GO KNIGHTS Natalie Land picked up her 200th career hit and 100th career steal, but the Knights lost twice on Saturday.
Natalie Land picked up her 200th career hit and 100th career steal, but the Knights lost twice on Saturday.

May 5, 2012

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By Andrew Jennette

HUNTINGTON, W. Va. (UCFAthletics.com) – Defensive mistakes and quiet bats proved costly as the UCF softball team was swept by Marshall in a doubleheader Saturday at Dot Hicks Field.

The Knights (39-15, 15-8 Conference USA) dropped the opening game 5-0 to the Thundering Herd (33-20, 14-9) before losing the second contest 4-0. The Saturday sweep means that tomorrow’s showdown with Marshall at noon will determine the No. 3 seed in the Conference USA tournament.

Game 1 – Marshall 5, UCF 0 - Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

Senior Natalie Land picked up her 200th career hit and 99th career stolen base, moving her just five away from tying the C-USA all-time record for steals. However, the Knights managed just three hits in a 5-0 defeat. Two rain delays during the game totaled about one hour.

The much-anticipated showdown between freshman Mackenzie Audas and Marshall’s Andi Williamson did not materialize as expected after some defensive miscues by the Knights allowed four unearned runs to score for the Herd in the bottom of the fifth.

Audas allowed a leadoff home run that staked Marshall to a 1-0 lead. After the first weather delay, Audas bounced back and retired 10 consecutive Herd hitters, including nine during her perfect second, third and fourth innings.

With the loss Audas dropped to 21-8 on the year. However, she maintained her conference lead in ERA (1.05) and strikeouts (248) as she only allowed one earned run and struck out three in six innings.

Game 2 – Marshall 4, UCF 0 - Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

Much like game one, Marshall rode strong pitching and benefited from mistakes by the UCF defense.

Williamson threw her second three-hit shutout of the day as she outdueled senior Ali Schmidt. Schmidt went six innings and allowed six hits and two earned runs as her record fell to 13-4.

UCF caught an unfortunate break in the top of the third inning, when the game was still scoreless. With freshman Kahley Novak at first base and two outs, senior Vanessa Perez crushed a ball into the gap in left-center that would have easily scored Novak standing up and given Perez an RBI triple. However, the ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double and Novak was forced to return to third base with Perez returning to second.

In the bottom of the inning, a wild throw on a Marshall sacrifice bunt attempt allowed an unearned run to score. A two-run single then gave the Herd a 3-0 lead.

UCF fans can follow all of the action from the final regular season game on UCF All-Access with live video and audio. Fans also can follow UCFAthletics.com's Gametracker as well as www.twitter.com/UCF_Softball.