The UCF Knights showcased dominant pitching and an explosive offense this weekend in Tampa, making a huge statement to the country by destroying 12th-ranked Tennessee, winning Friday’s game 10-1 in 5 innings, and 9-1 in 5 innings on Saturday. UCF also defeated FIU 4-2 on Saturday. and 7-1 on Sunday.
It is the first time Tennessee has ever been run-ruled in back-to-back games by a non-SEC team. That deserves a WOW.
Let’s start on Friday where, before the Knights played the Vols, they got a visit from the WWE’s Titus O’Neil, who spoke to the team pregame:
Whatever Titus told the team, BOY DID IT WORK! The Knights’ bats exploded in the third inning for 9 runs, highlighted by a 3-run homer by freshman third basemen Jada Cody, as the Knights would go up 10-0.
That would be all senior pitcher Alea White would need as she tossed five innings, allowing five hits and striking out five to earn the win, moving to 6-1 on the year.
The win was White’s 72nd of her career, giving her sole possession of third place all-time at UCF, passing UCF Athletics Hall-of-Famer Allison Kime, and trailing only Mackenzie Audas (78) and Shelby Turnier (80). Fittingly, UCF’s offense scored 10 runs on 10 hits in the win as the number 10 was the number that Allison wore throughout her Hall of Fame career (2006-2008).
Kime told Black and Gold Banneret following the game on Friday the following on White’s 72nd win and UCF dominant performance:
The Knights would continue the onslaught on Saturday against the Volunteers, led by junior Georgia Blair, who hit her 5th home run of the season in just 13 games, tying Jania Shinhoster in 2002 as the fastest UCF player to hit five homers in a season. Blair would then hit her 6th home run on Sunday in just her 15th game.
Freshman Shannon Doherty broke the game open in the top of the 3rd inning with a bases-clearing hit on her way to a 2-for-3 day.
That would be all that sophomore Breanna Vasquez would need as she picked up her first career win over a top-25 team with a one-hit, one-run gem and move to 3-0 on the young season.
UCF also defeated FIU on 4-2 on Saturday and 7-1 on Sunday to finish the weekend undefeated in Tampa. White picked up her 73rd career win on Sunday which puts her just one win away from tying Tulsa’s Emily Watson (2016-2019) for the most career wins by a pitcher in the American Athletic Conference.
Deja Vu all over again?
UCF now stands at 13-2, tied for the best start in program history with the 2015 team, who ended up going 50-9, was ranked for first time in program history during the season, and won The American regular season title and tournament title at home.
UCF once again hosts The American Softball Championships this year and could be ranked once again when the polls come out on Tuesday.
It is still early in the season and the Knights still have a rough schedule ahead, with a game Wednesday at top-10 ranked Florida State, and a West Coast trip in a couple of weeks that will feature games against #1 UCLA, as well as nationally-ranked Michigan and Minnesota. But this Knights team has clearly made a statement early on.
The Knights have a deep pitching staff with a 1-2-3 punch of White, Vazquez, and Gianna Mancha, to go along with an offense that has scored the most runs of any Knights team in the first 15 games of a season, as UCF reached the 100-run mark on Sunday. To put that number in perspective, last year UCF did not score their 100th run of the season until their 27th game. UCF also has already hit 14 homeruns this season. They hit 16 all of last season in 55 games.
It is early but the Knights made a loud statement this weekend in Tampa that they are legit contenders for The American and are determined to get back to NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016, and make more noise with not only their pitching, like in past years, but with an explosive offense too.