Another chapter in the rivalry between UCF and Houston will be written in Houston this weekend 10 years after it wrote the first chapter. Houston and UCF have met 31 times including three times in conference tournaments including 1 classic championship game in Houston 8 years ago. UCF and Houston have met with Conference Championships implications or post season implications. Houston-UCF have provided many memorable games since the rivalry began 10 years ago with the first ever meeting. Over the 10 years, Both UCF and Houston have had memorable games with memorable players from both programs which included one of greatest individual rivalries in College Softball history.
March 25, 2006 : Start of a Rivalry: At the start it didn’t look like much of a rivalry as the Cougars swept UCF in Orlando. Houston Ace Angel Shamblin a then sophomore won all 3 games including the 2nd game in relief pitching3.1 innings in relief as Houston beat the Knights 3-2 in 11 innings. Allison Kime pitched 11 innings in defeat. It would be the start of one of the great intense personal rivalries between two of the greatest players i both program history.
“Playing against UCF was always going to be a good series.” said Shamblin who knew Kime as both had the same personal pitching coach in Kaci Clark. “Against Kime You always had to bring your best game and compete hard pitch for pitch… Kime was a competitor, she never backed down…”
April 21, 2007 : Shamblin Takes Kime Deep: The Cougars would sweep UCF in Houston in a big 3 game series in the Knights first ever trip to Houston. The tone was set in Game 1 when Shamblin hit a Homerunoff Kime to LF in the 4th inning as the Cougars would dominate the weekend.
May 10, 2007 : First Postseason Meeting: UCF hosted 2007 CUSA Tournament. A double-elimination format at the time. UCF won earlier in the day over Marshall setting up a showdown with regular season champion Houston. With Kime having started the Marshall game earlier in the day, It meant that then Freshman pitcher Ashleigh Cole would get the ball against the CUSA 2-time pitcher of the year winner Angel Shamblin. The Cougars would edge out the Knights 2-1 on an RBI single by Haley Valis in the 6th inning for the win.Shamblin would break Houston all-time record for strikeouts in a career. Houston would go on to win CUSA Championship over East Carolina as Shamblin went 3-0 in the tournament to win Tournament MVP.
“Winning the CUSA championship at UCF was a memorable one for me, not only was it the first in school history but it was in my home state (Davie, Florida) “. Shamblin said.
April 6, 2008 : Kime Takes Shamblin Deep , Turns Rivalry Around: UCF hosted 9th rank Houston in showdown of top 2 teams in CUSA. The big question would be could UCF beat Houston, after all the Cougars had won all previous seven meetings coming into the weekend. That would not change in game 1 of series as Shamblin and Houston beat UCF in Game 1 of series. Mother nature suspended Game 2 to following day where UCF jump out early with a 5 run 1st inning which allowed Allison Kime to come in relief but it would be her bat that would make the biggest statement as Kime went 3 for 3 at the plate including a solo homerun off her rival Shamblin in the 3rd inning. The Knights would hold on to knock off Houston 6-4.
“Shamblin was always tough and anytime I was facing her I had to bring my A game if we had even a chance at winning” said Kime of her rival Shamblin who both batted as well as pitched against each other throughout both careers.
May 10, 2008 : CUSA Championship Game: The most anticipated CUSA Championship Game in CUSA history as Houston and UCF met in Houston for the title. Shamblin vs Kime for the last time in both brilliant college career and it would be Kime winning the final chapter of the rivalry with the help of Freshman Tiffany Lane who would go on to win CUSA Tournament MVP with Game winning 2 run homer in the top of 6th as UCF wins the title 4-2.
“Playing Houston was always tough that year and when we beat them in 2008 it was a huge accomplishment for us”. said Kime who beat Houston twice in 2008 season including the championship game in Houston. “We got swept by them I think most series’s and being that we were in the championship game I wanted nothing more than to win! It was my first time ever winning a tournament that big and it would be the second in program history!”
Kime would lead the Knights into the Gainesville regional where the Knights would beat USF 3-2 thanks to Kime’s 2 RBI triple in 6th inning and then a walk off hit win over number 1 rank Florida snapping the Gators 37 straight wins and 41 in a row in Gainesville. Shamblin would lead Houston to regional championship win at home with a 2-1 win over Washingtonbefore losing in three games to Lousiana-Lafayette in the Super Regionals.
“They were two kids who brought the intangible part of this sport more than most.” Said Kaci Clark-Zerbie on Kime and Shamblin. “They both defined the term “gamer” and were spectacular at finding ways to win. They could both beat you with whatever they had going for them on any given day, even when it wasn’t all of their good stuff. Those two brought the game in their bags every time they showed up to play!”
The 2008 CUSA Championship would not be the only championship Kime would get as she did something Shamblin could not do which is win a Pro Championship as Kime won the NPFChampionship in 2009 with Cat Osterman and the Rockford Thunder.
Although the Kime-Shamblin rivalry was complete. The individual rivalry set the tone for future games between the schools and would have an impact on the rivalry for years to come especially with one future key player of the rivalry. “Kaci definently mention both of them to me!” said Mackenzie Audas (2012-2015 at UCF) who like Kime and Shamblin had Kaci Clark as a personal pitching coach. ” She loved them as players and people and was proud of their accomplishments. I remember after telling Kaci I wanted to go to UCF, she said I reminded her of Allison.”
March 21, 2010 : Barrow Walk Off Homer: Both UCF and Houston had to transition from not having best players in program history (Shamblin,Kime) in 2009. Both programs bounced back and pick up the rivalry in 2010 where it left off in 2008. Then senior Hillary Barrow hit one of more memorable regular season home runs in program history with a walk off solo home run to LF in the bottom of the 9th inning with mist rain drops to complete a UCF sweep over Houston the series with a 1-0 win in the finale.Ashleigh Cole outdueled Amanda Crabtree in great pitcher duel in the mist rain. It was the first UCF not only won a series from Houston but also sweeping them. UCF would end up finishing 2nd in CUSA and got to CUSA Championship game in Houston where they would lose to East Carolina. The Knights would get into the NCAA Tournament for the first time as an at-large team.
Check out highlights below of the series sweep including Barrow Homerun starting at the 5 minute and 3 second mark. Also hear from Coach Renee Luers Gillispie at the 12 minute and 38 second mark.
May 8, 2011 : Houston wins 3rd CUSA Title : On senior weekend Houston swept UCFon the final weekend of the regular season to win the CUSA regular season title. Houston would eventually reach the Super Regionals losing at Oklahoma State.
April 29, 2012 : UCF Sweeps Houston on Senior Weekend: UCF swept Houston in big series that help UCF get in to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large. Highlights of series include Natalie Land on the first pitch that she saw in Game 1 in the bottom drilled it over the fence in LF to set the tone. “It was always exciting and nerve wrecking playing Houston because of the school rivalry and because they were important conference games.” Audas said on playing Houston. “Houston was one of the teams we all look forward to playing each year.”
Audas a Freshman at the time made her debut in the rivalry by picking up her 20th win of the season to set the tone in Game 1 of the series . UCF would go on to 6-3 win on Senior day to complete the 3 game sweep. UCF would go 27-4 at home and this mark the last home game of the great career of Natalie Land and Vanessa Perez who were part of two UCF NCAA Tournament teams (2010,2012).
May 10, 2012 : Outon Power: Haley Outon 3-run homer in the 3rd inning prove to be to much as Houston would eliminate UCF 6-2 in Quarterfinals of CUSA Tournament in Birmingham, Alabama. Watch highlights of the game here. Both Houston and UCF would end up making the NCAA Tournament.
April 28, 2014 : Farrah Sullivan Lifts UCF to Sweep of Houston : New Conference, same old high stakes. Going into weekend, Houston and UCF were 1-2 in the American Conference standings with just two weeks left in conference season It was the first year for UCF and Houston in the American Conference.Going into the weekend Houston’s Haley Outon was believed to be in the lead for Conference player of the year. That would not be the case following the weekend. History would be made as Farrah Sullivan put on one of greatest weekends any Knight ever had as Sullivan just owned Houston pitching the entire weekend. Sullivan set a school record for most hits in a 3 game conference series including 3 more hits in Sunday finale leading UCF on a comeback from a 4-1 deficit in the Bottom of 4th to a 7-5 victory to complete the sweep. UCF would go on to win 1st regular season conference championship in program history the following week at UConn. But it was the Houston series that really won the conference for UCF and Sullivan was one of main reasons for it. For the series, Sullivan went 9 for 11 with 5 RBIs and 4 doubles in the series which would help propel Sullivan to winning American Conference Player of the Year over Outon. Sullivan became the 2nd Knight to win Conference Player of the Year Award joining Stephanie Best who won A-Sun Player of the Year three times (2003-2005).
April 11, 2015 : Mackenzie Audas Breaks Allison Kime Wins and No-Hitters Record
Once again going into weekend UCF and Houston were at top of the American Conference with UCF coming in ranked 17th in nation with 37-6 overall record.
Audas was coming into weekend tied for most wins in program history with Allison Kime at 71. But Houston was a nemesis to Audas like it was to Kime during her career. But not on this day. Aided by an offense that scored 10 runs in the 3rd inning to break the game open. Audas would turn in a record -breaking performance by tossing her 5th career no hitter which also broke school record that Audas had shared with Kime with 4 no hitters in a 13-0 win in 5 innings over the Cougars. Audas broke Kime’s wins and no hitters record on the same very field that Angel Shamblin broke the Houston Cougars strikeout record and won CUSA championship 8 years earlier and on the same very field where Kime and UCF beat Houston for the first time in program history 7 years to the same month.
” It was a great feeling and honor breaking those two records and even sweeter because it was against a big rival. ” said Audas. ” Kime was such a great ball player and left a legacy I looked up to. So to be able to break those records and leave my own legacy is an indescribable feeling and accomplishment.”
The Knights would go on to sweep Houston and would go on to win regular season and conference tournament championships.
“Mackenzie was the perfectionist.” said Clark-Zerbe talking about Audas. “Her spin was always on, her location was ice cold, and her change buckled probably every hitter in and out of the conference. She was a force in college softball from the outset, but somehow always seemed to stay under the national radar. That kid could pitch and had a humble worker’s heart. To watch the way she carried herself, you’d never know she broke so many records. But that was her. Praise always brought no more than a shy smile from that kid.
As the Knights and Cougars renew the rivalry this weekend and for years to come future Knights and Cougars will look to follow the path left before them.
“I just hope that my legacy at UCF can inspire the next pitchers to come in and be even better than me just like Allison inspired me”.said Audas.
Special Thanks to Allison Kime-Trela, Angel Shamblin, Mackenzie Audas-Packrall and Kaci Clark-Zerbe for contributing to this story. Thanks to UCFSports.com, UCFKnights.com and UHCougars.com with photos and videos courtesy of them.