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The Knights' softball team is on the hunt for success and 39 games into the season, its making a strong case for itself at 34-5.

No. 18 UCF boasts the top-ranked earn run average in the nation, allowing a stunning 0.92 runs per game as of Friday.

The Knights have held their opponents scoreless in 15 games and have allowed only one run in 11 games. They have only allowed more than three runs twice this season.

"Our pitchers have been great all season long on keeping [opponents] down to one or two runs," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "If we can score three in a game, we're going to have a game."

UCF's five losses have been dropped by just one run each.

"We know losses happen. Every great team ends up losing a game, so we just tell ourselves, 'Next game let's just come out with intensity, and then fire and get runs in early,'" senior outfielder Maddy Schroeder said. "It's been working."

While pitching certainly has a lot to do with the team's success, its 13th-ranked fielding percentage (.977) doesn't hurt either.

"It's awesome to know that when I am pitching [well] they're still on, and when I'm not pitching well they still have my back," said senior pitcher Mackenzie Audas. "It makes a pitcher less nervous and less tense. We can go out and pitch our game and know that our hitters and defense have our back."

Audas' 0.95 ERA and 17-0 record, which includes 183 strikeouts in 117.2 innings pitched, can surely stand alone. But she may be able to attribute some of the success to catcher/first baseman Kalyn Cenal's 1.000 fielding percentage.

"I just believe in myself and I believe in my teammates. They always back me up on the field," said Cenal, who has not committed an error this season and sits second on the team in putouts with 211. "We're having the mindset of going out there and playing and having fun."

Although the Knights have combined for a batting average of .288, they feel stronger going forward as they have eliminated the overthinking aspect when hits aren't coming.

"We identified our weaknesses on the mental side of the game because that makes or breaks you as a player," sophomore outfielder Willow Kalinen said. "Hitting's contagious, so when your teammate gets a hit in front of you, everyone else is going to follow."

The Knights aren't getting ahead of themselves, though. They know it will be a long, hard-fought battle to get through the remaining 15 games before the AAC tournament kicks off, which is being held at UCF this year.

"We focus so hard on one pitch at a time [and] one game at a time, and it has helped us not look forward," Luers-Gillispie said. "It's really staying focused on the moment, focused on what we need to get done."

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Jarrod Heil is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Find him on Twitter@JHeil11.

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