Faced with the unenviable task of playing the Knights (softball's 15th best team) in the AAC semifinals, Sam Greiner stepped into the circle and threw six innings of first rate ball. She gave up three singles and a run in the first inning but settled down and kept UCF scoreless until the seventh when she was replaced by Erica Nunn. Greiner gave up nine hits and a walk, but her nerves of steel and the Bulls' defense came through to keep UCF away from home plate. Greiner let two Knights on base in the seventh and was replaced by Nunn, who gave up a bunt single to load the bases. Karla Claudio entered the circle to try to limit the damage and threw two bases-loaded strikeouts. A UCF fly ball to left center escaped center fielder Juli Weber's dive, scoring two runs for the Knights and putting them up 3-1. The score held as the Bulls couldn't get things going in the bottom of the seventh.
USF's offense struggled in this game, spreading their six hits throughout five different innings and leaving five runners stranded. Catcher Lee Ann Spivey had the only Bull RBI in the game, driving in D'Anna Devine in the sixth inning to tie the game at one. Aside from a few imperfect plays, the defense was solid throughout the game. In the fifth inning a UCF grounder to center field was grabbed by Weber and lasered home to Spivey, who tagged out the UCF base runner at the plate.
Watch the highlights here:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Here are the full video highlights of <a href="https://twitter.com/UCF_Softball">@UCF_Softball</a>'s 3-1 win over USF in semifinals <a href="http://t.co/8QfZeCGKWr">http://t.co/8QfZeCGKWr</a></p>— American Softball (@American_SBall) <a href="https://twitter.com/American_SBall/status/596821549987954688">May 8, 2015</a></blockquote>
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This was a win or go home situation against one of the best teams in the country on their home field, so of course it was a difficult game. UCF probably wasn't expecting to get held to one run for the first six innings and certainly didn't expect to be tied going into their last out in the seventh. That's what made this one so heart-wrenching. A blowout would have been easier to watch, but getting so close and still losing such an important game is torturous.
Although there is a small chance that USF will be invited to the NCAA Tournament, their season is likely over. They finish 36-20, which includes a regular season win over UCF. Other than that, they had a few impressive wins and a humble 7-11 conference record. Probably not enough to win them a tournament bid. With success being the norm for softball, a decent season like this is disappointing. But our hats are off to the Bulls for their hard work and we look forward to them coming back strong next year.