The wild spring continues for various UCF Knights sports, plus we name a Knight of the Week in your latest Knight Cap for Monday, March 1:
UCF Baseball Wins 2 of 3 at No. 1 Ole Miss
There were a handful of victories this past weekend by unranked teams facing top-10 opposition, but no team in college baseball had a more impressive weekend than UCF against the No. 1 team in the nation. Ostensibly reeling after losing three of their first four games this season, the Knights went down to Oxford, Miss, won the series against the Ole Miss Rebels and came within one out of achieving a sweep.
UCF’s pitching, which entered allowing more than 10 runs per game, was the collective shining star of the three-game set. Colton Gordon set the tone by throwing seven innings of one-run ball in Friday’s victory. Hunter Patteson rebounded from a dreadful debut and basically matched Mississippi right-hander Gunnar Hoglund, a possible 2021 first-round pick. AJ Jones put forth a dominating effort in the finale, striking out 10 over six innings while giving up just one run. It was a fantastic showing all around against an Ole Miss team that was coming off of three victories over foes ranked in the top 10 during the prior weekend.
UCF’s bats came to play as well. Ole Miss had limited that aforementioned group to just eight runs in three games; the Knights pushed across 15. Catcher Ben McCabe smashed two homers and drove in five of those runs. He collected three hits and scored four times in UCF’s 7-2 triumph during the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the series-clincher. True freshman shortstop Alex Freeland continued his hot hitting by going 6-for-11 over the series, raising his season average to a clean .500. Jordan Rathbone and Josh Crouch went deep as well.
The Knights did squander a two-run lead in the ninth inning of Saturday’s first game, but it’s wasted energy to fret about that loss instead of admiring the bigger picture. The Knights righted themselves this past weekend and, in the process, proved that they can play well against anyone, anywhere. We’ll see how they come out on Wednesday in DeLand against Stetson, a team that blanked UCF last week, 7-0. The Knights will then host the Liberty Flames in a three-game weekend series at John Euliano Park.
No. 22 UCF Softball Sweeps McNeese State
UCF’s roster depth was on display this weekend as the Knights swept McNeese State, winning a five-inning finale on Saturday, 11-3 to improve to 9-2 on the season. All nine starters collected at least one hit, and freshman Grace Jewell earned her first career win in her first career start. She went three innings and allowed one run on two hits. Freshman Katie Burge led the offense with two hits and three runs batted in.
On Friday, UCF’s pitching dominated as it swept MSU in a doubleheader. The Knights won the first game 3-0 behind a two-hit shutout from Alea White, who picked up her 82nd career win along with her 20th career shutout, which is tied for 4th all-time with Dottie Cupp. In the second game, Gianna Mancha struck out 10 batters and gave up only one run. Meanwhile, the offense scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to win 4-1. Both White and Mancha carried no-hitters into the sixth inning before each surrendered a two-out single.
Overall, it was a 3-1 week for UCF. The lone loss came in a tight 6-5 decision to No. 20 Missouri on Wednesday night.
UCF Women’s Basketball Dominates Temple to Win 8th Straight
UCF overwhelmed Temple from the opening tip Saturday and romped, 61-37, to win its eighth straight game and improve to 13-2 overall, 11-1 in the AAC. The win also served as revenge for the Knights, who lost to Temple earlier this season.
Tay Sanders led the way, tying a career high with 22 points and eight rebounds. The Knights’ defense held the Owls to 37 points on 22% shooting. It was the third time this season and eighth time in the “Abe Era” that UCF has held an opponent to fewer than 40 points. To put that in perspective, prior to Coach Abe’s arrival, UCF had accomplished that feat only six times since 1984, when it became a Division I program.
Up next for the Knights is a War On I-4 home-and-home showdown against South Florida with the American Athletic Conference regular-season championship at stake.
No. 18 UCF Women’s Tennis Splits Texas Road Trip
Not the result we were looking for today.— UCF Women's Tennis (@UCF_WTennis) February 27, 2021
We'll be back at it against #23 Furman at home on Saturday.https://t.co/xjsqWZgopw
The 18th-ranked Knights split their two-game road trip in Texas, losing on Saturday to the defending champions, No. 2 Texas, 4-0. Due to poor weather, the matches were moved indoors, and the Longhorns showed why they are the defending national champions.
The Knights did earn their seventh straight victory and third consecutive over a Power 6 opponent with a convincing performance versus TCU in a 5-1 win Thursday.
W SECURED!— UCF Women's Tennis (@UCF_WTennis) February 25, 2021
Ksenia gets the job done on court three with a 6-3, 6-0 dub!
We'll play out court one. pic.twitter.com/qGLEpzjXnV
Kseneia Kuzsetnova clinched the win with a 6-3, 6-0 win on Court 3.
The Knights return home to host another top-25 team in Furman on Saturday.
No. 19 UCF Men’s Tennis Sweeps FGCU to Improve to 4-2
UCF Men’s Tennis jumped all over FGCU on Friday, winning all six first sets in singles, and rolling to a 7-0 sweep.
UCF Women’s Soccer Loses at Tulsa, 3-2
UCF Women’s Soccer suffered their first loss of the season on Sunday at Tulsa, 3-2, dropping them to 2-1 on the year. The Knights scored seven minutes in on Trescott Shamlou’s her first goal as a Knight:
But the defense gave up two goals before halftime and another in the second half. Katie Bradley scored lateto pull the Knights within 3-2, but it was too little, too late.
UCF faces its arch nemesis Memphis next Saturday in Tennessee.
UCF Men’s Soccer Loses at Tulsa, 3-1
The brothers had the 16-9 edge in shot attempts and 11-1 advantage in corners, but couldn't get the goals needed for the victory this evening.— UCF Men's Soccer (@UCF_MSoccer) February 28, 2021
We'll #ChargeOn into next weekend's match with Memphis.https://t.co/8eeZNP1jrc
UCF once again got off to a slow start as it gave up two goals in the first half. Mauricio Villalobos Vega scored in the 48th minute to get the Knights within 2-1, but Tulsa added a goal later in the half to cinch a 3-1 victory and drop the Knights to 1-3 on the season. Sophomore goalkeeper Matt Douglas made his 1st career start for UCF in place of Yannik Oettel, who was unavailable.
Next up is a home match versus Memphis.
UCF Volleyball Drops a Tough Five-Setter at Florida State
UCF jumped out to a two-set lead at Florida State, but the Seminoles came alive to knock off the Knights in five sets and exact some measure of revenge on UCF for the Knights’ five-set win over FSU in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament. It was UCF’s first loss on the season. McKenna Melville had 18 kills and 10 digs in defeat.
Now at 8-1, UCF dives back into conference play for the remainder of the season as they are home Friday and Saturday for a back-to-back with ECU. The Knights are 2-0 in the league, tied with Cincinnati in the East Division. The Pirates are 2-4 on the year and looking for their first win in AAC play.
McKenna Watch: After her 18 kills against the ‘Noles, Melville is at 1,226 for her career. She is 91 kills shy of Jale Hervey for seventh-most in program history.
Melville has 882 digs in her career following the 10 digs on Friday. She is 118 digs from becoming the sixth Knight ever to record 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. That illustrious group currently includes UCF Athletics Hall of Famers Renata Menchikova and Tyra Harper, as well as Miriam Metzcus, Erin Campbell, and Kia Bright.
Watson Swat Watch: Anne-Marie Watson is now at 411 block assists for career, which is 64 away from Harper’s career record. Watson’s 430 total blocks leave her nine away from third place in program history, currently held by Piper Morgan.
UCF Women’s Golf Ranked 25th After 7th-place Finish in Gainesville
UCF Women’s Golf finished the Florida Gators Invitational in seventh place as a team at the Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville, Fla. The Knights were paced by Tunrada Piddon, who finished with a total score of 217 (+7) and earned a T-15 finish.
Knights of The Week
Colton Gordon, Hunter Patteson, AJ Jones — Baseball
What a difference a week makes. After last weekend’s rough start by the Knights’ starting rotation, that trio rebounded in a big way this weekend at Oxford. Gordon knocked off No. 1 Ole Miss on Friday night, going seven innings and allowing just one run on six hits with six strikeouts to notch the program’s third win against a No. 1-ranked team.
In Saturday’s Game 1, Hunter Patteson had a strong outing, going five innings and giving up three runs with seven strikeouts to give his team a chance to win.
In Game 2, AJ Jones was electric as he went six innings, giving up just one run while striking out 10 to get the win in the deciding game of the series.
Overall, it was a huge series for UCF’s pitching after the opening-week disaster versus Florida Atlantic. In that series, UCF’s starters went 9.2 innings with a 13.03 ERA, a 2.07 WHIP, 14 strikeouts and 5 walks. This weekend on the road at No. 1 Ole Miss?
#UCF's three starting pitchers this weekend: 18 innings, 2.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 23 Ks, 4 walks. Against the No. 1 team on the road.— Brian Murphy (@Spokes_Murphy) February 28, 2021
Ben McCabe, Baseball
McCabe had a monster Saturday: 4-for-8 with two homers, five runs batted in and five runs scored, helping the Knights claim the marquee series.
Tay Sanders, Women’s Basketball
Sanders matched her career-high with 22 points along with eight rebounds and a game-high four steals in the Knights’ 61-37 win over Temple. She scored 12 of her 14 first-half points in the second quarter as the Knights built up a 31-14 lead by halftime and never looked back.