ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) – The UCF softball team came into Wednesday night’s doubleheader having a challenging time pairing strong hitting and pitching performances together in the same game. The Knights (18-14) got their best-combined contributions from the offense and pitching staff in weeks as they defeated Monmouth (9-6), 2-0, in game one before outslugging the Hawks, 7-6, in the nightcap at the UCF Softball Complex.
Freshman Shelby Turnier shined in game one as she allowed just two hits with four strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work. The Plant City native earned the 10th victory of her rookie season and lowered her ERA to a team-best 1.94. Turnier also helped her own cause with an RBI single in the third inning to put the Knights up their final 2-0 advantage.
Sophomore Mackenzie Audas came in with one out in the sixth and earned the save for Turnier with a pair of strikeouts. Already owning the Knights’ career record for saves, Audas tied UCF’s single-season record with her third close of the season.
UCF got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning after freshman Kaitlyn Steckel drew a based-loaded walk to plate fellow freshman Taylor Wagner from third. The Knights showed good patience at the plate as a team as they drew five walks to go along with their five hits.
Freshman Samantha McCloskey hit what proved to be the difference-making, three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning for the Knights. Leading 4-0, McCloskey’s long ball put UCF ahead by seven runs and seemingly in command of the ball game. However, the Knights would need each of those runs as Monmouth staged a furious comeback, scoring six runs in the final two frames. McCloskey was 2-for-3 on the day with three RBI and two runs scored. The three RBIs give her a team-leading 16 on the season.
Audas got the start just minutes after recording a save in game one and she responded well, going five innings and allowing just a single hit and no runs while earning her seventh win of the year. The Plant City native overall struck out nine and allowed just one hit for the day, lowering her ERA to 3.01.
With two outs, two strikes in the top of the seventh inning and the Knights leading by four runs, the game was delayed 40 minutes by lightning and heavy rain. After the delay, freshman Mackenzie Huhn came out and recorded the final out after a pair of Knights’ errors allowed three unearned runs to score for Monmouth. Overall, Huhn allowed three earned runs on three hits in two innings of relief work.
The Black and Gold have 10 home games remaining at the UCF Softball Complex, with season tickets for the remainder of the 2013 season costing only $30. Single game and season tickets are available for purchase online at UCFAthletics.com and Ticketmaster.com, or by calling the UCF Athletics Ticket Office at (407) UCF-1000.