Knights rallying around pitcher
Published: Monday, April 16, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 16:04
For the most part, it was just another foul ball.
When shortstop Natalie Land’s pursuit of a foul ball took her took her into the fence along the third-base line, it may have looked like just another foul ball. Land’s hustle play, one that likely knocked the wind out of her as she went into the padded top of the fence, didn’t result in an out during Wednesday’s big game against the then-No. 3 Florida Gators.
It wasn’t fruitless, though.
Land’s effort, along with the glove work from the other Knights on the field, gave freshman pitcher and rising star Mackenzie Audas some much-needed confidence during arguably the biggest game of the season. The result was Audas pitching yet another shutout and UCF winning 2-0 over the visiting Gators.
“I love it [the effort],” Audas said. “It means that they’re in the game right there with me and they’re going to back me up, even if I make mistakes. It definitely raised my confidence.”
It was a fitting moment for a team that has, already this season, experienced the lowest of lows in losing six straight games. Wednesday night, the Knights experienced the highest of highs. It is a shift in momentum, in part anchored by the team’s willingness to rally around its standout freshman pitcher.
“They’re starting to feel that – they want to fight for each other,” head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. “[They’re] fighting to get those outs for Mac [Audas].”
Despite Audas’ knack for strike out totals in the double digits (11 against the Gators), the freshman cannot and does not strike out every hitter she faces. That’s where the rest of the Knights come in, eager to flash some leather.
“For our pitcher, we feel like any time the ball’s in play we’re going to take care of business,” third baseman Farrah Sullivan said.
Sullivan took care of business at the plate, as well. Sullivan drove in the only runs of the game on a double in the first inning. The effort for the Knights on such a big stage had Luers-Gillispie praising her program and noting the value of winning such a big game.
“It’s big. … It’s good because they’re confident in each other,” Luers-Gillispie said. “You can’t spend enough practices to get what you got [Wednesday night] in this game.”