May 7, 2009
Box Score | Photos
EL PASO, Texas (UCFAthletics.com) - With a 2-1 loss to No. 4 Marshall (31-19), the No. 5 UCF (27-27) softball team was eliminated from the Conference USA Championship presented by Helen of Troy Thursday at Helen of Troy Softball Field in El Paso, Texas. Freshman Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.) paced the Knights at the plate with a 2-for-3 performance, which included a double.
"Natalie really shined for us today both offensively and defensively," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "She was the highlight of the game for us, performing well and leading the offense in her first big-time, pressure game."
Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa), Hillary Barrow (Miami, Fla.) and Vanessa Perez (San Diego, Calif.) also posted hits for the Black and Gold, while Tiffany Lane (Moreno Valley, Calif.) scored the lone run for the visiting team.
In the circle, Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.) was tagged with the loss, despite allowing only two runs on four hits in five innings of work. The loss dropped Cole's record to 17-8 on the season. Kristina DeMello (Mead, Wash.) would come in the sixth inning to close out the game, shutting out the side with one strikeout in the sixth inning.
The Black and Gold outhit the Thundering Herd, 5-4, in the contest, but stranded eight runners on base, including two bases-loaded opportunities.
"I thought that we had a really solid defensive outing today," Gillispie said. "But, I was disappointed that we couldn't get a key hit to score our runners when we had the opportunities."
The Knights had the opportunity to score early in the contest, when they loaded the bases with only one out in the third inning. To walks and a single by Land juiced the bases, before two-straight strikeouts from Katie Murphree got the Thundering Herd out of the jam.
Marshall broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth inning when, with two runners on base and two outs, pinch hitter Rachelle Schmidt hit a double to right centerfield to score both base runners.
UCF loaded the bases for the second time in the contest in the top of the sixth, with Breanne Javier (Castaic, Calif.) reaching on a fielding error by Marshall's second baseman, before back-to-back singles from Barrow and Perez put the go-ahead run at first base with only one out. But, once again, Murphree worked her way out of the inning unscathed, fanning the next two batters to move the game into the bottom of the sixth.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Lane reached base on a fielder's choice and advanced all the way to third base when Murphree was charged with two-straight illegal pitches. McClain would hit a pop up to shortstop, but with not a cloud in the sky, Alianna Telles lost the ball in the sun, scoring Lane and keeping the Knights' chances alive. But, a pop up to third base ended the game and the season for the Black and Gold.
"This is not how I wanted to see the season end for our four seniors, Gillispie said. But, we wish them well in all of their future endeavors."
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