The 20th season of UCF Softball was a memorable one. It was a season that saw the Knights return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016 advanving to NCAA Tournament Regional Final in Tallahassee before falling to eventual Women’s College World Series participant Florida State who was one win away from winning the national title.
UCF finished the season with a 41-19-1 overall record. The 41 wins are the seventh most in program history and this is the seventh time in program history that the Knights have had at least 40 wins in a season (2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2021).
It was the Knights 8th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first appearance since 2016. The Knights would make the program’s 5th Regional Championship game in program history (2008, 2014, 2015, 2016,2021) . It is the most by any program since 2008 that has NOT hosted a regional.
It was a season that saw the Knights win thier first conference tournament game since 2016 and make a run to the American Athletic Conference Championship game in Tulsa before falling to Wichita State 7-4. But it was the journey that was so memorable with so many legendary games and moments. Here is a look back at some of the moments from 2021 season.
February 21, 2021 Alea White Becomes All-Time Leader in Wins
She did it! Congrats to Alea on becoming UCF Softball's all-time wins leader #CHARGEON pic.twitter.com/9zBniaPaCj— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) February 21, 2021
Alea White would break the program’s record for most wins in a career against New Mexico State as the Knights won 8-2. The win was White’s 81st of her career.
White would end up with 99 in her career with her last win coming at Tallahassee Regional against Kennesaw State that sent the Knights to the Regional Final. White became 3rd UCF pitcher to pitch a shutout in NCAA Tournament game joining Allison Kime ( 2008 Regional Final at No. 1 Florida), and Shelby Turnier (2016 Gainesville Regional vs FAU). as White led Knights to regional final with 2-0 win. White finished her final Knights season going 22-8.
March 8, 2021 No 22 UCF Beats No. 2 Arizona 2-0
No. 2 #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/aK5pWV43tL— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 8, 2021
Gianna Mancha dominated No. 2 Arizona offense that is among the best in the country, throwing a 3-hit complete game shutout with 9 strikeouts as the Knights snapped Arizona 23 game win streak which was longest at time in the nation with a 2-0 win. This marked A
March 24, 2021 No. 24 UCF Walk- Off No. 5 Florida
Almost 2️⃣4️⃣ hours ago, we came to play ⚔#ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/PCG6fNlyyz— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 25, 2021
Karissa Ornelas hit a 2-run walk off homer as the Knights knock off Florida 8-6 in a classic at the Plex. The win was the program’s 700th.
A WALK-OFF FROM KARISSA SEALED THE DEAL! #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/mNbKnWdaj5— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 25, 2021
Karissa Ornelas hit a 2-run walk off homer as the Knights knock off Florida 8-6 in a classic at the Plex.
March 26, 2021 Jada Cody Walks Off Houston
Jada said:— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 26, 2021
"Game VER!"#ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/wGix3iY7al
In the first AAC conference game of her career, Jada Cody had a memorable start with a walk-off homer in bottom of 8th to give UCF 2-1 win over Houston. The Knights would go on to sweep the Cougars.
April 14, 2021 UCF Wins in Gainesville for First time since 2008
UCF completes 2 game sweep in season with a dominant 7-0 win over No. 5 Florida.
Miss some of the big moments from last night's shutout victory over No. 5 Florida?— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) April 15, 2021
We've got you covered #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/gtBxHVmO7p
April 23, 2021 Gianna Mancha Throws No Hitter at Memphis
NO-HITTER— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) April 24, 2021
G was absolutely UN-HITTABLE tonight! With 1️⃣3️⃣ Ks, she shuts the door on a 8-0 Knights win! #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/IFlbDxhBqL
Gianna Mancha throws the program’s 18th No-Hitter on April 23 as the Knights won 8-0 at Memphis.
May 7-9 UCF Wins Dramatic War On I-4
UCF finished the regular season winning 3 of 4 from USF denying the Bulls a chance to win the American Conference regular season title.
The turning point of series was in Game 2 of series on Saturday as Bulls had won 1st game of series on Friday night. USF led 3-2 going into bottom of 7th when the Knights came back starting with double from Allyse Volpe, followed by single by Denali Schappacher. With runners at 2nd and 3rd. Volpe would tie the game on wild pitch that would even the game at 3rd. The next pitch Jada Cody gets the bunt down with 2 strikes as Knights win the game on squeeze play as Schappacher scored winning run.
The play that sealed the deal— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) May 8, 2021
Ready to run it back against the Bulls #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/ednMIBWDom
UCF would follow that game with a 9-1 run rule victory over USF and wrap up the series with a 2-0 win on Senior Day Sunday on senior Kyra Klarkowski 2 run homer.
Kyra hits it THROUGH the foul poll— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) May 9, 2021
We lead 2-0! #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/b2iMsNerSX
UCF Advances to AAC Championship Game
KARISSA GOES DEEEEP— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) May 14, 2021
We take the lead! #ChargeOn
Tune in to ESPN+ to watch live:
Karissa Ornelas go ahead Homer and dominant pitching by Gianna Mancha in relief sent the Knights to the AAC Championship game for the first time since 2015 with a 3-2 win over the rival Bulls.
UCF Beats Auburn in Tallahassee Regional
Bottom of the seventh. Bases loaded. Up one— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) May 21, 2021
We were made for this #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/M1Qedz9U8U
UCF would pick up 40th win of season in dramatic fashion as the Knights knock off Auburn 5-4 in a classic game with a memorable ending as with the bases loaded and 1 out in the bottom of 9th. UCF turns in double play to end it.
UCF Beats Kennesaw To Advance to Regional Final
⚔️ KNIGHTS WIN ⚔️— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) May 22, 2021
We shut out the Owls to move on to the regional championship game #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/fWizYos4m9
The Knights would get to Tallahassee Regional Final with a 2-0 win over Kennesaw State behind White’s shutout. UCF scored a run in 1st and 2nd inning which would be enough for the 41st win of season.
“Team XX” will be one that will be remembered for long time by many Knight fans as it was a season of incredible moments and a season that put the program back on the national scene where it belongs.