Defense, pitching at core of Knights’ resurgence
Published: Sunday, April 8, 2012
Updated: Sunday, April 8, 2012 16:04
UCF softball assistant coach Ruben Felix says he knows the secret.
The Knights (29-10) have done a 180 from a season ago, even from earlier this season when they lost six consecutive games. UCF has won 13 of its last 14 games and is 9-3 in Conference USA play, so far.
Felix said that good pitching and defense has helped the Knights win more games this season and believes that if UCF was only hitting well, but didn’t have the pitching or defense, things could be a lot different.
“We’ve gelled really well, on the mound and defensively, so that has really helped us,” Felix said. “I think last year that was our problem [the lack of defense]. That’s why we were a below-.500 team last season and this year we’ve done well.”
Behind ace pitcher Mackenzie Audas and a dominating offensive effort, the Knights picked up their second C-USA sweep over UTEP (12-27, 2-13) last weekend, winning 10-2, 17-5 and 9-0.
Senior Natalie Land led the UCF offense with six hits, seven runs, five RBIs and only one strikeout in the sweep over the Miners.
“We have to play so many games and just being able to be a leader and bring energy each and every game is important,” Land said. “Getting everyone focused, too, because we have the ability and talent that we need, sometimes just focusing is what we lack.”
As Land sees it, this is a team with a lot to prove and having the right mentality has made a big difference.
“I think that we have a whole new group this year, so in the beginning of the year we had a lot to prove,” Land said. “We play every game like we want to win and try not to look back or ahead, just play every single game, and so far, that’s worked out for us well.”
The mentality helped the Knights sweep away the Miners.
Freshman Farrah Sullivan made sure her impact was felt during the series, posting three home runs, two doubles and nine runs in Friday’s double header. Audas received her seventh shutout of the year, fifth in C-USA play.
UCF totaled 36 runs in the series against UTEP, the most in UCF history for a C-USA series.
The Knights are hopeful that momentum will carry over to Wednesday when they play the No. 6 Florida Gators at the UCF Softball Complex.