“With the bases loaded, I was just looking for a good pitch to hit,” Perez said. “She was throwing inside all game, so I was just looking to get around on it and keep it fair. Once I knew it fell in, it felt great. It always feels great to get a game-winning hit.”
The comeback win versus the Eagles improved the Knights’ record to 12-8 on the season and extended their win streak to a season-best seven games, which included five-straight during the UCF Tournament this weekend. The Black and Gold also improved to 3-0 in extra-inning affairs and it has won its last three contests in come-from-behind fashion.
“Coming back to win these games shows that we have a lot of fight,” junior Abby McClain (Waterloo, Iowa) said. “We are fighting for each other, fighting for the team, fighting for the coaches and fighting for the fans.”
Senior Ashleigh Cole (Pace, Fla.) also extended her impressive streak in the circle while earning the victory. The hurler has now tallied six wins in her last six appearances to improve to 9-4 on the year.
“This winning streak is great,” Cole said. “Whenever you have a winning streak going you just need to stay consistent and just keep pushing.”
Against Georgia Southern, Cole got in trouble early, allowing three runs in the first inning, but settled down to hold the Eagles scoreless through the next seven frames, while not allowing a hit in the final four. She finished the outing allowing only four hits to the visitors, while striking out three and walking one.
“When they scored those three runs right away, I knew that we had the hitting power to make it a close contest,” Cole said. “I never had a doubt that we wouldn’t come back and win that game, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Cole also scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Perez’s single to left field.
Three different Knights had two hits in the win, which included a 2-for-4 outing from sophomore Natalie Land (Mayo, Fla.), in which she tallied a double and two RBI.
McClain and Marissa Menendez (Tampa, Fla.) also contributed two-hit performances for the Black and Gold. McClain registered a double, scored a run and stole a base, while Menendez added a triple and a RBI.
UCF plated its first run of the game in the third inning after Morgan Bullard (Columbia, S.C.) legged out a single to the shortstop and stole second to move into scoring position. After a lengthy at bat, Land won the battle at the plate and knocked in Bullard with a single to the third baseman.
Freshman Arielle Palafox (Lakewood, Calif.) was pegged by a pitch delivered by Georgia Southern starter Brianna Streetmon to lead off the fourth inning. Junior Ashley Schmitt (Tampa, Fla.) who replaced Palafox at first base as a pinch runner, then pedaled around the bases and scored the Knights’ second run of the contest on a triple to left field by Menendez. The triple for the rookie was the second of her career.
The fifth inning saw the Black and Gold even the contest at 3-3 following back-to-back doubles from McClain and Land.
Run production was hard to come by following the fifth, as both teams were held scoreless through the next two frames.
In the eighth, the international tiebreaker rule came into effect, with each team starting its half of the inning with a runner at second base. Cole and the Knights’ defense took care of business in the top of the frame, giving UCF a golden opportunity to win in the bottom.
With Cole starting at second base, an intentional walk allowed to Palafox put two runners on with nobody out. Menendez then laid down a bunt single to load the bases for the home team. The Eagles managed to get one out in the inning before Perez’s single just over the top of the third baseman’s head gave UCF its seventh-straight victory.
The Knights are back in action Tuesday when they host Maine in a 3 p.m. contest at the UCF Softball Complex.