The UCF Knights will begin the 2021 softball season as the favorites to win The American, according to the conference preseason poll that was released on Tuesday.
The Knights received six out of seven first-place votes, claiming the top spot in the poll over South Florida, who got one first-place vote. Houston was selected to finish third.
It is very fitting that UCF and USF are the top two teams in the polls as the two programs have combined to win five of the six American regular season championships.
The Knights return about 95 percent of a roster that went 21-5-1 overall in 2020 and finished the season ranked #21 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. They were led by an offense that hit .310 as a team in 2020 that was on pace to break many school records before the season was cancelled due to COVID-19.
UCF and USF both return deep pitching staffs from 2020, with one of the main storylines in The American being the battle for AAC Pitcher of the Year award, with senior Alea White returning for the Knights and Georgina Corrick leading the Bulls. Corrick is the reigning two-time AAC Pitcher of the Year (2018, 2019) and an All-American from 2019.
White has been a three-time all-conference performer, including making first team with Corrick in 2019. She comes into the season withing striking distance of some of significant UCF pitching records, including in career wins with 77, which is 3 away from the school record held by Shelby Turnier (2013-2016), who has 80. Odds are the AAC Pitcher of the Year award winner in 2021 will be either a Knight or a Bull for the sixth time.
We still await the release of the Knights’ schedule for 2021.