Streak alive with win over Knights

USF 5, UCF 3

The USF softball team continued its winning ways against UCF on Wednesday.

In a late season, non-conference game, the Bulls (33-20, 10-5 C-USA) beat the Golden Knights (38-23-1, 10-4 A-SUN) 5-3. The win helped the Bulls improve their winning streak to seven games as they head into a tough stretch of conference games.

“We have good pitching right now and we are hitting the ball well,” associate coach Stacey Heintz said. “Right now we are just putting all the pieces together.”

In the first inning, junior Christie Chapman got the offense started with a single through the right infield. After a bunt moved Chapman to second, Tiffany Stewart hit a chopper to Knights shortstop Stephanie Best who threw the ball over the head of the first baseman.

The error by Best let Chapman score and gave the Bulls an early 1-0 lead.

In the third inning, Chapman sparked the offense again, leading off with a single. Samantha Ray followed Chapman with another single as UCF pitcher Lindsay Enders walked the next batter — Carmela Liwag — to load the bases for the Bulls. Stewart took advantage of the situation by hitting a single that rolled past UCF second baseman Crystie Krafft’s glove and allowed two runners to score.

The Bulls added two more runs to make the score 5-0 heading into the sixth.

But freshman pitcher Bree Spence gave up two singles to put two runners on base. UCF’s Jania Shinhoster then hit a double to deep left center to score both runners, putting the Knights on the board.

Sophomore pitcher Kasey Cash came in to relieve Spence and retired the next two batters, ending the inning.

Spence (16-11) provided another solid outing, getting the win by going 5 1/3 innings while allowing six hits and two runs.

“Cash came in today and did a great job to get us out of (the sixth) inning,” Heintz said. “Everybody is contributing, and they are doing a pretty good job of helping Spence out.”

Junior pitcher Nicole Christensen made her contribution by closing out the game in the top of the seventh. Although Christensen surrendered a run on a sacrifice fly from Enders, she struck out two batters in the final inning to earn her second save of the season.

Wednesday was the team’s second win of the season against the Golden Knights, and it makes the Bulls 6-0 all-time against their intrastate opponents. But Heintz downplayed the Bulls’ success against UCF in favor of the team’s real focus.

“Anything in-state could be a good rivalry to have and I know we beat (UCF) earlier in the year,” Heintz said. “But right now we are just focused on the next game.”