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Knight Cap: UCF Women’s Golf Podiums at American Championships

Plus: Baseball’s struggles continue

Courtesy of UCF Athletics

The past week of UCF Knights sports saw Women’s Golf compete in its conference championship, Baseball’s woes continue, and the Tennis teams finishing out their regular seasons. Plus, we name the Knight of the Week for your latest Knight Cap for Thursday, April 21, 2022.


Women’s Golf, Piddon podium at AAC Championship

Despite falling short of 1st place, the UCF Women’s Golf team still podiumed as a team and with one individual in the American Athletic Conference Women’s Golf Championship in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

The Knights entered the final round on Tuesday six strokes behind leading Houston. However, a challenging course and the wind led UCF and Houston to shoot +18 and +22 final rounds respectively, which opened the door for Tulane, who shot a +7 final round as a team, to take the team title.

With an 892 (+28) for the tournament, the Green Wave finished five strokes ahead of 2nd place Houston (897, +33) and seven strokes ahead of 3rd-place UCF (899, +35).

Individually, junior Tunrada Piddon entered the final round with a three-shot lead over 2nd place. However, after bogeying the final two holes and shooting a final round 79 (+7), Piddon fell to 2nd-place (220, +4), losing the individual title by one stroke to SMU senior Kennedy Pedigo (219, +3).

For the full results from the AAC Championship, check out golfstat.com.

Now, it is a waiting game for the Knights. According to Golf Channel Staff Writer Brentley Romine, both UCF and Tulsa are ranked high enough to be selected for an at-large berth into an NCAA Regional tournament. It would mark the 16th regional appearance in program history.

However, the Knights will know for sure if they are selected and which regional, they would play in during the NCAA Women’s Golf Selection Show, which airs at 4 p.m. on April 27 on Golf Channel.


Baseball falls to Jacksonville, loses Freeland for “foreseeable future”

In the words of head coach Greg Lovelady, the UCF Baseball team got its “butts whooped” against Jacksonville, losing on Tuesday night, 9-2.

They did so without SS Alex Freeland, who Lovelady said after the game would be out for the “foreseeable future” with a broken hand.

The Knights were able to get out ahead early, 2-0, thanks to 2B Ryan Taylor scoring on a wild pitch, and C Cole Russo getting an RBI single to score RF Pablo Ruiz.

However, Jacksonville was able to hold UCF scoreless for the rest of the game. In the meantime, the Dolphins took the lead in the 3rd inning thanks to a 2-run RBI double and a passed ball. For the rest of the game, they put up insurance runs with a 2-run RBI single in the 5th inning and two RBI singles, an RBI SAC Fly, and another passed ball in the 7th inning.

“Just poorly coached,” Lovelady said. “All the things that we need to do in order to be good, we just didn’t do. It’s just frustrating and embarrassing.”

Despite the loss, starting pitcher Ben Vespi and true freshman reliever Julian Balzer combined to pitch 4 innings and allowed only 1 hit between them.

“We got the talent,” Lovelady said. “We just got to go out and execute.”

The team will be traveling to Wichita State this weekend for a three-game series, with Game 1 starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, Game 2 at 3 p.m. on Saturday, and Game 3 at 1 p.m. on Sunday.


Track and Field returns to Gainesville

The UCF Track and Field team returned to Gainesville (this time with better weather) this weekend for the Tom Jones Memorial.

The team captured three podium finishes.

Two of these were in the High Jump, with freshman Natalia Madison setting a new personal best at 1.75-meters (5 ft. 8.75 in.) to take the gold and sophomore Kaliah Jones tying for silver, matching her personal best of 1.70-meters (5 ft. 7 in.).

Meanwhile, the 4X400-meter relay team, junior Samiyerah Bradwell, sophomore Latasha Smith, freshman Kiah Williams, and freshman Danielle Bess, finished in 3rd place with a 3:31.88 time. That mark breaks a program record that was set back in May 2015 (3:32.22).

As for sophomore Rayniah Jones, she set a new season-best mark in the 100-meter hurdles at 12.99 seconds, which earned her 6th-place. She also competed in the 100-meter dash, finishing 7th with an 11.32-second time. Her mark was 0.03 seconds off from her personal best in the event.

In a meet rife with new personal bests and season-best marks set, check out the full results of the meet in UCF Athletics’ Day 1 and Day 2 recaps.

The team will go with a divide and conquer strategy this weekend, with some of the team traveling to Charlottesville, Virginia for the two-day Virginia Challenge from April 22-23 and the rest going to Baton Rouge, Louisiana on April 23 for the LSU Alumni Gold.


Women’s Tennis finishes out regular season with win over USF

The No. 18-ranked UCF Women’s Tennis team finished out its regular season with a 4-0 sweep of USF last weekend.

The win also outright clinched the victory for UCF in the 2021-2022 All-Sports War on I-4 title.

Redshirt junior Nandini Sharma took home victories in her doubles-play match, paired with true freshman Sophia Biolay (7-5), and in her singles-play match (6-0, 6-1). Her singles-play match win extends her singles-play winning streak to 11 consecutive matches, making her only two wins away from tying Valeriya Zeleva for the 2nd-longest singles-play winning streak in program history.

While the victory did not raise the Knights’ standing in the ITA rankings, the duo of junior Marie Mattel and senior Evgeniya Levashova did go up nine spots to No. 33.

Thanks to their 15-6 (3-0) regular-season record, the Knights will enter the American Athletic Conference Women’s Tennis Tournament in Tulsa as the No. 1-seed and advance straight to the quarterfinals and face off once more with USF, who is the No. 9 seed, at 1 p.m. on Thursday.


Men’s Tennis finishes out regular season with USF loss

The No. 46-ranked UCF Men’s Tennis team closed out its regular season with a 4-3 loss to No. 40-ranked USF at the USTA National campus last weekend.

While the Knights did not ultimately take the doubles point, No. 36-ranked doubles pair Trey Hilderbrand and Bogdan Pavel won their match against No. 37-ranked USF pair Rithvik Bollipalli and Bruno Oliveira, 6-1.

It may not have been enough to get UCF to victory, but Pavel and then-No. 90-ranked Hilderbrand still got wins in their singles-play matches. Joining them with a singles-play victory was senior Alan Rubio, who was honored in the match’s Senior Knight festivities.

The loss drops the team to 8-14 overall (2-3 AAC) to conclude the regular season. It enters the AAC Men’s Tennis Tournament in Tulsa with only two singles players (Pavel and Rubio) and two doubles pairs (Hilderbrand/Pavel and Cronje/Pavel) having winning records for the season. Meanwhile, Hilderbrand is the only singles player on the team that’s ranked (No. 83).

Now ranked No. 44 as a team, the No. 5-seed Knights will have the chance to redeem themselves against the now-No. 41-ranked and No. 4-seed USF at 10 a.m. on Friday in the quarterfinals round of the AAC Men’s Tennis Championship.


Rowing takes 4 of 5 against Hurricanes

Despite inclement weather delaying things for a couple of hours, the UCF Rowing team won four of its five races against Miami (FL) last weekend in its last event of the season on Lake Pickett.

The Varsity Eight, Third Varsity Eight, Varsity Four, and the Second Varsity Four A-Squad boats all came away with victories over the Hurricanes.

Thanks to its almost 40-second victory over the Hurricanes, the Varsity Four was named the AAC’s Boat of the Week.

For the full results of the event, check out UCF Athletics’s recap.

The team travels to Raleigh, North Carolina this weekend for the two-day Lake Wheeler Invite on April 22-23.


Knight of the Week

Latasha Smith, Track and Field

The sophomore West Palm Beach native had already set the record for the indoor 400-meter dash back in February and she was a part of the 4X400-relay team that broke the program record this weekend.

However, Smith also set another program record all on her own.

Smith’s 5th-place finish in the 400-meter dash came thanks to a 52.01-second time. That mark broke a program record set back in May 2013 by UCF Athletics Hall of Famer Afia Charles (52.49).

Thanks to the pair of school records she was involved in breaking, Smith was named the AAC Track Athlete of the Week.