Softball2010 NCAA Women's College World Series
In the second meeting of the NCAA Gainesville Regional between FIU (37-20) and UCF (36-22), the Golden Panthers prevailed to move on to the Regional Championship game against fourth-seeded Florida with a 7-0 victory.
FIU sophomore righty Jennifer Gniadek (16-6) earned a complete-game shutout, allowing five hits, two walks and struck out one. UCF junior right-hander Diana Rojas (2-2) tallied the loss, pitching three innings, allowing four hits, three runs, two earned and three walks. Senior Kristina DeMello came in for 2/3 an inning and walked two before she was replaced by senior Ashleigh Cole, who went 2.1 innings in her final appearance in a Knights’ uniform. She allowed five hits, four runs, one walk and struck out one.
The Golden Panthers scored two in the first as freshman Jessy Alfonso led off the game with a walk and advanced to second on an illegal pitch. Freshman Beth Peller drew a walk to put runners on first and second and sophomore Ashley McClain singled to load the bases for freshman Brie Rojas. Rojas tallied a sacrifice fly to bring home Alfonso and tally the first run of the game. Sophomore Jenny Welch grounded out to plate another FIU run before Diana Rojas forced a fly out to end the inning.
FIU added another run to its lead in the third as McClain recorded a one-out double and moved to third on a passed ball. After Brie Rojas walked and stole second with two outs, redshirt senior Lauren Spiers smacked on back to the pitcher, scoring McClain to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead.
In the fifth, FIU’s Welch belted her third home run over the left-field fence after Brie Rojas drew a lead-off walk to increase the lead to five. The Panthers loaded the bases in the sixth as Seldi Soberon, Alfonso and Peller all singled. With one down, Brie Rojas tallied an infield single to third, scoring Alfonso. FIU last run came on a wild pitch, advancing the Panthers to the finals against the Gators.
UCF Head Coach Renee Luers-Gillispie
On today’s games:
“We had a couple of rough games. Unfortunately we didn’t play our best in the first game and we didn’t have enough to finish in this last game. I’m proud of our seniors, how hard they worked all season to get us here and how they finished the season off. I’m proud of how hard this team worked to get here. Our lineup was the same as last year’s minus one player.”
On the loss to FIU:
“With FIU we were hitting the ball hard, they were doing a great job defensively, keeping us off track and getting a lot of double plays on us. Their defense was really strong today. We weren’t hitting to gaps, like we did yesterday against FIU. We would get runners on and they would grab a line drive or get a double play. You talk about the momentum of a game and at no time during this last game did we have the momentum going our way.”
UCF Senior Right-Handed Pitcher Ashleigh Cole
On today’s games:
“Today did not go our way obviously. Overall, it was a good experience and I’m glad our team tried its hardest. It was tough. We haven’t been very good when dealing with loses and I think that showed today. We came out yesterday and scored seven runs on FIU and couldn’t even get one today. We had a great season and we fought really hard.”
UCF Senior Third Baseman Hillary Barrow
On playing in the NCAA Regional:
“It was awesome. Last year was a bad year for us. Our seniors started the year wanting to make it as far as we could and we were just happy we had the chance to play another game with each other.”
FIU Head Coach Beth McClendon
“I hope everyone knows the reason that we are here after today. I think that’s the team we had all year long. They really showed their fight and come-from-behind mentality in the first game today, and rolled that into game two. Having the back- to-back games really worked in our favor today. We talked last night reminding ourselves of all the good things we have done all year, which really seemed to work in our favor.”
FIU Sophomore Right-Handed Pitcher Jennifer Gniadek
On pitching the complete-game win against UCF:
“The plan was for me to pitch the second game today whether or not Kasey went seven or 10 innings. I knew I had to keep the ball in not give up home runs or make mistakes today.”
FIU Sophomore Right Fielder Ashley McClain
On the team’s mindset entering Saturday’s game with UCF:
“We pretty much just wanted to put the ball in play, because we have struggled a little bit, but we just really wanted to focus on getting that ball in play. The two runs scored in the 10th inning against Bethune-Cookman were huge on a confidence standpoint.”
UCF Game Notes
· UCF ends its 2010 season with a 36-23 record overall, after making its first-ever NCAA Tournament at-large appearance.
· The Knights drop to 5-6 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, making their third all-time appearance in postseason play.
· UCF was shut out twice on Saturday, marking the team’s 11th and 12th shutouts of the season.
· The Knights drop to 3-3 all-time vs. FIU.
· Junior right-hander Diana Rojas took the loss for UCF, falling to 2-2 on the season.
· Senior third baseman Hillary Barrow was held hitless for the first time in the NCAA Gainesville Regional after tallying three hits over the team’s first two games, including the only hit in the squad’s loss to Florida earlier on Saturday.
FIU Game Notes
· FIU improved its record to 38-20 overall and advances to the NCAA Regional Final against Florida at 1 p.m. ET.
· Sophomore catcher Jenny Welch launched her third home run of the season in the bottom of the fifth inning to extend FIU’s lead to 5-0 at that point.
· Sophomore pitcher Jennifer Gniadek recorded her first shutout of the season and her 12th complete game of the season.
· FIU recorded its eighth shutout of the season with the win Saturday’s night.