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What To Know About UCF Softball At Tallahassee Regional

UCF takes on South Carolina 7pm on ESPN2

Noah Goldberg

The UCF Knights make their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance and 10th overall this weekend.

The Knights advanced to the Super Regionals last season for the first time in program history after hosting a regional for the first time. This will be the third time UCF will travel to Tallahassee for the tournament (2021, 2015).

UCF has been riding the arm of Sarah Willis. Last week she became the first Knight pitcher to win 3 games in 3 days in Tampa since UCF Hall of Famer Allison Kime in 2008.

Jasmine Williams led the offense, going 4/7 with 2 homers and 5 RBI. Williams got lots of national attention with a feature on written by Matt Monagan who spoke to Black and Gold Banneret:

Chloe Evans leads the balanced offense with 45 runs batted in, which is 5th-most ever by a Knight in a single season, while slugging .611, which ranks as the 6th-best season in program history.

Aubrey Evans tied the UCF record with 16 doubles and is 2nd on the team in hitting at .336.

Jada Cody became the 11th Knight to reach 200 career hits in Saturday’s title win against Tulsa:

The Knights have won 20 of the last 21 games and are one win away from 40 wins, which would mark the first time UCF has had three straight seasons with at least 40 wins.

UCF Players to Watch:

  • Shannon Doherty: .286, 9 HR, 37 RBI
  • Chloe Evans: .343, 15 2B, 45 RBI
  • Aubrey Evans: .336, 16 2B, 30 RBI
  • Jada Cody: .294, 11 2B, 7 HR, 25 RBI

Pitchers to Watch:

  • Sarah Willis: 18-3, 1.88 ERA, 115 Ks, 53 BB, 138.2 IP
  • Grace Jewell: 12-6, 2.82 ERA, 70 Ks, 43 BB, 121.1 IP

Here is a look at the teams in the regional:

No. 3 Florida State (50-8)

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Lonni Alameda Has been the head coach at FSU since 2009.
Joe Rondone/Democrat

FSU swept the ACC regular-season and tournament titles this season and reached 50 wins for the ninth time under head coach Lonni Alameda and 22nd time overall. The Noles lead the nation in doubles (110) and have stolen 115 bases in 131 attempts, led by Devyn Flaherty (27 of 28).

ACC Pitcher of the Year Kathryn Sandercock (23-3, 1.16 ERA) is fully capable of going the distance if needed, but also holds the program single-season (8) and career record (16) for saves. Freshman lefty Makenna Reid has been a perfect complement to Sandercock and has yet to suffer a loss this season (12-0, 0.97 ERA). The Seminoles beat the Knights in the 2015 and 2021 Tallahassee regional final.

FSU Players to Watch:

  • Kaley Mudge: .350 average, 14 2Bs, 45 runs, 34 RBIs
  • Kalei Harding: .310 average, 17 2Bs, 9 HRs, 42 RBI
  • Michaela Edenfield: .242 average, 10 HR, 7 2Bs, 50 RBI, 39 BB

Pitchers to Watch:

  • Kathryn Sandercock: 23-3, 1.16 ERA, 92 Ks, 14 BB, 8 saves, 151.0 IP
  • Makenna Reid: 12-0, 0.97 ERA, 83 Ks, 19 BB, 72.0 IP
  • Allison Royalty: 8-1, 2.23 ERA, 51 Ks, 34 BB, 66.0 IP

South Carolina (37-20)

NCAA Softball: SEC Softball Tournament Quarterfinals
May 11, 2023; Fayetteville, AK, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Beverly Smith goes over the lineup with the umpire during a quarterfinal game against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Softball Tournament. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo
Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

The Gamecocks are making their first NCAA appearance since 2019 after making a run to the SEC tournament final, becoming the first No. 10 seed to reach the championship game in the event’s history.

Senior Donnie Gobourne has emerged as a difference maker averaging 11.0 strikeouts per seven innings pitched which ranks fourth-most in Division I softball. South Carolina has used Gobourne both as a starter and as a super reliever role more lately, coming out of the bullpen to close out games. Gobourne played at FAU and Santa Fe College before transferring to South Carolina.

South Carolina and UCF are no strangers to each other as they played in a home-and-home regular season series in 2021 at South Carolina and 2022 at UCF. The Knights beat the Gamecocks twice in the 2015 Tallahassee regional.

South Carolina Players to Watch:

  • Riley Blampied: .278, 13 2B, 30 runs, 7 HR, 41 RBI
  • Brooke Blankenship: .313, 26 runs, 27 RBI

Pitchers to Watch:

  • Donnie Gobourne: 13-6, 2.15 ERA, 189 Ks, 72 BB, 5 saves, 120.2 IP
  • Karsen Ochs: 7-6, 3.07 ERA, 49 Ks, 12 BB, 70.2 IP

Marist (29-28)

The Red Foxes are making their fourth NCAA appearance and first since 2016. They won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Championship as the No. 3 seed to earn the NCAA automatic bid. Marist is led by MAAC Player of the Year Maddie Pleasants. Redshirt freshman Haley Ahr was named MAAC Rookie of the Year.

Marist has 112 steals in 131 attempts. The 112 steals ranks No. 21 in the country. In The Circle, Kiley Myers and Calista Phippen have combined for 292 of the 385 innings pitched for Marist this season. Head Coach Joe Ausanio is a former Yankee relief pitcher.

Marist Players to Watch:

  • Maddie Pleasants: .344 average, 1.042 OPS, 11 2B, 9 HR, 44 RBI
  • Haley Ahr: .384 average, 18 2B, 49 RBI, 16-19 S
  • Sam Freeland: .333 average, 45 runs, 19 RBI, 26-27 SB

Pitchers to Watch:

  • Calista Phippen: 14-10, 2.11 ERA, 147 Ks, 60 BB, 156.0 IP
  • Kiley Myers: 13-5, 2.37 ERA, 95 Ks, 25 BB, 136.0 IP

UCF will be on in primetime against South Carolina Friday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 with Courtney Lyle and Danielle Lawrie on the call.