Now this is how you win your bid to the NCAA Tournament:
Samantha McCloskey‘s solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning sent UCF to the NCAA Tournament in walk-off style, with a 1-0 victory over Tulsa in the American Athletic Conference Championship.
Here’s another look at the hit:
McCloskey went 3/3 at the plate, but her final hit – a deep liner down the left-field line – gave UCF its second straight AAC Tournament title.
Shelby Turnier, the nation’s leader in ERA and a candidate for National Player of the Year honors, continued her dominance, tossing a complete-game one-hit shutout, striking out five and walking just two. The Knights needed every bit of it, as UCF could not push across a run the whole game, despite several opportunities.
Then McCloskey, the eventual Most Outstanding Player for the tournament, took matters into her own hands in the final frame.
The dramatic nationally-televised win gave the Knights a few milestones:
- It was the first time UCF has ever won both the regular season and conference tournament championships in the same season.
- It’s UCF’s fourth conference title in program history and sixth NCAA appearance.
- It’s the first time UCF has won the conference title as tournament hosts.
Even though UCF only had to win two games as the one-seed in a seven-team tournament, it wasn’t easy. The Knights got a desperately-needed clutch hit from AAC Player of the Year Jessica Ujvari – a two-run single in the seventh inning of their semifinal against USF – to advance to the title game, and then McCloskey’s blast sealed the crown.
MacKenzie Audas and Shelby Turnier combined to give up just one run on four hits in 14 innings of tournament play, striking out 13.
In the video below, McCloskey, Turnier and head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie discuss the victory and what it means for UCF’s chances in the NCAA Tournament:
Now the 48-7 Knights await where they will go in the NCAA Tournament bracket, with the selection show taking place tomorrow at 9 p.m. Eastern. As Gillispie and Turnier both stated, UCF is holding out hope that they will host their regional for the first time in school history.
For the latest sports news from UCF and around the Sunshine State, stay with SportsTalkFlorida.com. Follow us on Twitter at @SportsTalkFLA.