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August 4, 2009They were once teammates, but now Allison Kime and Breanne Javier face off as rivals.
The former UCF Softball stars are now professional athletes in the National Pro Fastpitch League and will meet on the diamond this week right here in Central Florida. Kime's Rockford Thunder will take on Javier's USSSA Pride in a five-game series set to begin Wednesday night in Kissimmee.
The series will be a homecoming for Kime, who is originally from Brandon, Fla. She is scheduled to start both the Wednesday and Sunday games.
"It's so exciting to be in my hometown," Kime said. "Everyone in the area has supported UCF Softball and myself through all the ups and the downs and being able to play for them professionally is a great honor."
Javier and Kime both enrolled at UCF at the same time in the fall of 2005. Kime transferred to UCF from Hillsborough Community College while Javier came in as a true freshman from Castiac, Calif. 2006 was a rebuilding season and both played right away.
The program was adjusting to life in a new league, Conference USA, having just lost many players to graduation from their 2005 Atlantic Sun Championship team. The Knights struggled that first year and finished in last place.
"2006 was a tough year for our program, but I knew if we could make it through that year we could do anything," Kime said. "We had the team chemistry and the support of one another to make a great team and program, but things didn't fall our way that year due to a lot of injuries. The following year everyone came back stronger and we finished third overall in the C-USA tournament."
Fast forward to 2008. UCF, led by Kime and Javier, capped off a quick turnaround as the Knights won a school record 49 games and would capture the C-USA Championship Tournament in Houston where they beat the nationally ranked Houston Cougars, 4-2.
"(In 2008), just having the experience alone I knew our team could make it to the next level because we were all so close and had great relationships with each other," Kime said. "Our team was just bound for success."
Fittingly, the final two outs of the game were recorded by Kime and Javier with one on and one out in the seventh inning. UH hitter Elaina Nordstrom hit a line drive back to Kime, who threw back to first to Javier to complete the double play.
"Ally and I have definitely been through a lot with our time at UCF," says Javier. "I think both of us having the same mentality of wanting to be better, and wanting to help our team improve each year, helped in our successful 2008 season."
UCF would go on to make some national headlines in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, upsetting No. 1 ranked Florida in Gainesville 1-0 on May 18, which ended Florida's 41 game home winning streak at home and their streak of 37 straight wins overall. The victories forced deciding games the next day, where the Knights eventually came up short.
Kime set numerous pitching records at UCF from 2006-08, including the individual season and career records for wins and strikeouts to go along with four no-hitters. She would be a two-time All-Conference first team selection (2007, 2008) as well as a two-time Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-Southeast Region first team pick (2007, 2008) before her time was done as a Knight.
"Ally is a phenomenal player," Javier said. "I've never seen anyone work so hard at what they do more than Ally. I love to watch her play because when she gets on that mound, you can tell she has that mindset that she can strike anybody out, or she'll go down fighting."
Kime is now in her second season pitching for the Rockford Thunder, who are one of main contenders to win the NPF title this season. They feature the 1-2 punch of Kime and U.S. National Team star pitcher Cat Osterman.
Kime is scheduled to start in two of the five games against USSSA Pride, a first year franchise based in Central Florida. Kime faced the Pride back on June 17 and beat US National Team and Pride star pitcher Monica Abbott 2-0 in Roscoe, Ill.
"This was my best game since I've been here," said Kime, who pitched a two-hitter with nine strikeouts and allowed no Pride runner past second base.
When Kime goes thru the Pride lineup this time, she will see a hitter she is quite familiar with-- Breanne Javier.
Javier is in her rookie season with the Pride after making the team on a try-out at the beginning of the summer. After the starting the season as a part time player, Javier has battled her way into regular playing time at first base, a position which she started at for every game with UCF from 2006-2009.
She will come into this week's matchup swinging a hot bat as she belted her first homerun for the Pride this past Sunday in a 6-2 victory at Akron.
Javier also boasts impressive career accolades as a Knight. She holds the school record for most base hits in a single season with 85 hits, set in 2008. At the time, that record belonged to the only other former UCF Softball player that played professionally in the NPF, Stephanie Best. Her 15-game hitting streak, which lasted from April 4 to May 4, 2008, is also a school record. Javier ranks third all-time for her career in both base hits (245) and batting average (.321). Javier also notched a pair of All-Conference USA First Team accolades (2007, 2008) and earned a spot on the Louisville Slugger/NFCA All Mideast Region First Team in 2009.
"(Javier) is a great team player," Kime said. "She supports you through thick and thin and when things are not going your way she will find some way to cheer you up with a funny joke. She gives her all every time you step out on the field and will play her heart out for you until the very last pitch. I truly miss playing with Bre and turning to her while in the field or before we bat and doing our hand shake, 'three, five, bang!.'"
Earlier this season, Javier faced Kime in a matchup June 17, striking out twice against Kime that day. She would see Kime again June 21 going 0-2, but would get some revenge as her Pride beat Kime on this day 2-0. Rockford took three of the five game series.
Javier is anticipating the matchup against her teammate in their old stomping grounds, but is also a little apprehensive.
"It's a little hard to face one of my closest friends just because we were on same team for three years, but it is still exciting because I'm able to see and visit with her while we play each other," Javier said.
This week Kime and Javier will once again visit each other and face off, though it should be in front of many more familiar faces likely wearing recognizable colors to both, black and gold.
Former UCF Softball Stars Meet at the Pro Level
Who, What: Two of the greatest players in UCF Softball history - Allison Kime and Breanne Javier - will play against each other in a five-game series this week right here in Central Florida. Kime pitches for the Rockford (Ill.) Thunder, while Javier suits up for the Kissimmee-based USSSA Pride.
When, Where: The series begins Wednesday, August 5 and lasts through Sunday, August 9. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, while the Sunday finale is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. Pride Park is located on the campus of Osceola High School at 420 S. Thacker Ave. in Kissimmee.
Tickets: Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids. More ticket and venue information can be found at USSSAPride.com.