May 22, 2010

 Courtesy of

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The FIU softball team recorded its second ever NCAA Tournament victory and its second shutout-victory of the day with a 7-0 win over UCF at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday. With the win, FIU improves to 38-20 while UCF ends its season with a mark of 36-23.

The top of the first saw UCF put a runner on with two outs on the board, courtesy of an FIU error, but a final ground-out ended the inning for the Golden Knights.

FIU came out on fire in the bottom of the first with freshman Jessy Alfonso leading off with a walk and advancing to second on an illegal pitch before a walk by freshman Beth Peller put two on for the Golden Panthers. A single to centerfield by sophomore Ashley McClain would then load the bases and a sac fly from freshman Brie Rojas sent Alfonso across the plate to give FIU a 1-0 lead. The Golden Panthers kept their rally going as a put-out at first allowed Peller to score and put FIU on top, 2-0, before a fly-out brought the inning to a close.

UCF recorded two hits in the top of the second but the FIU defense held strong, withstanding the Golden Knights' two-out rally, to bring up the bottom of the second. Junior Seldi Soberon would then tally a two-out hit up the middle for the Golden Panthers, but she was left stranded on a final ground-out by UCF.

The top of the third saw the Golden Knights notch a lead-off single and a stolen base advanced the runner to second, before a line-out to first base brought up two outs for UCF. A heads-up play by sophomore catcher Jenny Welch and sophomore Kelsey Grabiak would then end the inning as the two would connect at third to catch the runner stealing.

McClain doubled to centerfield with one out on the board for FIU in the bottom of the third and a passed ball allowed her to reach third before Rojas drew a walk to put runners on the corners for the Golden Panthers. Rojas would then steal second and a single by senior Lauren Spiers drove in McClain to increase FIU's lead to 3-0. UCF got out of the inning with a fly-out to left field. McClain's double was her 17th of the season as she now owns the single-season school record for doubles in a season.

In the top of the fourth, UCF went three-up, three-down. FIU put two on via a pair of walks in the bottom of the inning, but could not put any runs across.

The top of the fifth saw UCF lead off with a walk, but stellar defensive play by FIU left the Golden Knight stranded, bringing up the bottom of the fifth. Rojas would then draw a lead-off walk before a two-run shot over the left field wall by Welch increased FIU's advantage to 5-0. The home run was her third of the season.

UCF recorded a single to lead off the top of the sixth but a line-out double-play from Alfonso to Spiers cleared the bases and put two outs on the board before a line-out to right field brought out the FIU bats.

The bottom of the sixth saw FIU load the bases with no outs on the board and go on to record four hits in the inning, sending two across the plate on an RBI-single by Rojas and a score on a wild pitch by Peller, to give the Golden Panthers a 7-0 advantage.

UCF led off the top of the seventh with a single to right field but a double play turned by Alfonso, Rojas and Spiers quickly put two outs on the board. A hit-by-pitch put a runner on first for the Golden Knights and a walk then put runners on first and second, but an infield put-out posted the final out as FIU recorded its second shutout of the day with a 7-0 victory over UCF.

FIU was led by McClain and Soberon, as McClain went 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored while Soberon recorded a 2-for-3 outing at the plate. Alfonso and Peller each scored a team-high two runs on the night while Welch recorded a squad-best three RBIs.

In the circle, sophomore Jennifer Gniadek recorded her first career shutout versus UCF, striking out one batter while allowing five hits and no earned runs in seven complete innings of work. Gniadek is now 16-6 on the season.

FIU advances to the final day of the Gainesville Regional and the Golden Panthers are set to take on No. 4 seed Florida on Sunday at 1 p.m. If FIU defeats Florida, the two teams will square off again 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one in the double-elimination event. Live stats and live free video are available at