ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Seniors Natalie Land, Vanessa Perez and Ali Schmidt carried the UCF softball team to an emotional 6-3 win over Houston on Senior Day Sunday at the UCF Softball Complex.
UCF (38-13, 15-6 Conference USA) ended its home schedule with a program-best 27-4 record.
The Knights jumped on the Cougars (29-21, 12-9) early with a three-run first inning. Land led off the game with a single up the middle and immediately took second for her 37th steal of the year. The swipe was Land's 96th of her career, putting her just four away from the all-time C-USA record.
Later in the inning, Perez plated Land with an RBI single up the middle to make it 1-0 Knights. Freshman Farrah Sullivan followed with an RBI single to right to put the Knights up 2-0. Senior Tawny Swan then stepped in and dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt that was thrown into right field by the Cougars that allowed Perez to score all the way from second to give UCF a 3-0 lead on an unearned run.
Schmidt got her second start of the series earned her 13th victory of the season after allowing just three hits and three run in six and 2/3rds innings. Schmidt was one out away from a complete-game shutout before the Cougars got to her for a run. Schmidt lowered her ERA to 1.61 on the season. Freshman Mackenzie Audas came in and finished off the game with a strikeout to earn a one-out save.
The Black and Gold added insurance runs in the third thanks to a RBI double by junior Danielle Brewer and in the fifth after Brewer hit a fly ball into left that was dropped by the Cougars after some defensive miscommunication. UCF completed its scoring in the bottom of the sixth when Land, in her final home plate appearance, singled and eventually came around to score on an RBI single through the middle by Sullivan.
The Knights will return to action on Tuesday as they travel to Bethune-Cookman for a 4 p.m. contest. This will be the last midweek game of the regular season for the Knights as they then travel to rival Marshall on Saturday for their last conference series of the year.
UCF fans can follow all of the action from the four remaining games 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.