The UCF Knights Softball team’s 2020 season begins this week, as they host a tournament against Indiana, Clemson, Duke, and St John’s.
It is the second season for Head Coach Cindy Ball-Malone, who has built a deep roster with 12 newcomers to go along with all returners from last year’s team. The Knights finished last season at 34-21 overall in Coach Ball-Malone’s first year, finishing in middle of American Conference.
The Knights will look to improve on that and try to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.
Here’s what you need to know for the 2020 season:
34-21 , 11-10 in The American (4th place). Lost in 1st round of AAC Tournament.
UCF had a year of transition as the players learned Coach Ball-Malone’s system and everyone adapted to new settings. It produced a winning season, which just missed making the NCAA Tournament. The offense went cold in the last few weeks of season, which resulted in series losses to South Florida, Tulsa and Houston. UCF ended up losing to Wichita State in the opening round of The American Softball Championship, which, it turned out, was not completed due to weather.
We definitely had some fun this year so checkout the highlights from our 2019 season https://t.co/u6kbS5nCsA— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) June 3, 2019
UCF was picked 4th in The American’s preseason poll, but polls are more times than not based on where teams finished last season. South Florida was the preseason pick, followed by Wichita State and Tulsa.
Who To Watch
Senior P Alea White
White enters her senior campaign in the top ten all-time at UCF in ERA (2.42), strikeouts per seven innings (4.49), wins (66), saves (7), appearances (125), starts (98) and more. Last season, White earned NFCA First Team All-Region honors, and was named All-Conference First Team. White enters the season 14 wins away from the school record, held by Shelby Turnier, and three saves away from Mackenzie Audas’ school record of 10.
Junior OF Denali Schappacher
Schappacher enters her junior season with a career .333 batting average, which is 2nd best in program history. She has a career .398 OBP and 97 hits.
Who We’ll Miss
C Cassady Brewer
One of the biggest questions for Knights this season is who will take over at catcher with the graduation of Cassady Brewer. Brewer ranks in the top five all-time at UCF in several offensive categories and threw out 33% of base runners during her career, which is the best in program history by a catcher who has started at least two years.
The better question is who is not new, with half the roster being newcomers. But here are a couple of names to keep in mind:
P Gianna Mancha
Mancha comes over from Boise State, where she was recruited and played for Ball-Malone. She helped Boise State win the Mountain West in 2018 and the NCAA Tournament in 2018 and 2019.
Mancha will bring experience to an already deep pitching staff.
IF Georgia Blair
Blair comes to the team after playing at San Jose State, and helped them make the NCAA Tournament in 2017. Blair also has international experience, having played for the Australian Junior and Senior National Teams. She can play multiple infield positions and could prove to be an important bat in the lineup.
Her bat has already paid off, as she walked off Indiana in the second game of the season to finish of a run-rule victory:
Who’s on the Roster
The Knights have 12 newcomers to the squad this year, including six true freshmen and six transfers. Among the group are four outfielders, four infielders, three pitchers and a catcher. The Black and Gold will have five returning starters from last season’s team. Basically half the roster is brand new.
- Five Seniors
- Nine Seniors
- Four Sophomores
- Seven Freshman
Who’s on the Schedule
- Wednesday Feb. 12 vs. #1 Washington
- Friday Feb. 21-Saturday Feb. 22 vs. #12 Tennessee (at Tampa)
- Wednesday Feb. 26 at #9 Florida State
- Friday March 6 vs. #17 Michigan (at UCLA)
- Friday March 6 at #4 UCLA
- Sunday March 8 vs. #8 Minnesota
- Friday March 13-Sunday March 15 at #21 Ole Miss
- Friday March 20-Sunday March 22 at Wichita State (AAC opening series)
- Friday March 27-Sunday March 29 vs. Tulsa (AAC home opening series)
- Wednesday April 1 vs #7 Florida
- Thursday April 9-Saturday April 11 at South Florida
- Friday April 24-Sunday April 26 vs. East Carolina (Senior Weekend)
- Thursday May 7-Saturday May 9 AAC Softball Championship at UCF
The Last Time...
UCF hosted the American Conference Softball Championships: The Knights won 1-0 on a walk-off homerun by Samantha McCloskey.
How to Watch the Games
If you cannot make it to the complex, you can watch every home game on UCFKnights.TV on Twitch.