But that ain’t the whole story, folks.
The real story is the dramatic way Alea White, UCF’s all-time winningest pitcher, started off a clutch 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 7th to end it.
Offensively, all five of UCF’s runs came in the bottom of the second on six hits, including a two-RBI double by Shannon Doherty to give the Knights a 2-1 lead. Three more RBI hits by Justene Molina, Denali Schappacher and Jada Cody put UCF up 5-1 through one and a half.
But the Knights’ offense sputtered the rest of the way, leaving 11 runners on base for the game.
Auburn pulled back three of those in the bottom of the second to make it 5-4.
With the tying run for Auburn aboard with one out, and starting pitcher Gianna Mancha scuffling in the circle, head coach Cindy Ball-Malone again went to her bullpen-of-tricks and pulled out White, who retired eight of the next nine heading into the seventh.
Coach Ball-Malone after the game:
Auburn looked to be figuring White out in the final frame, as they loaded the bases on two singles, a sacrifice and a walk. But then on a 2-2 pitch to Auburn’s Makayla Packer, White snagged a comebacker, fired it home to Karissa Ornelas for the second out of the inning, and then Ornelas deftly turned and fired to Jazmine Esparza at first for the final out of the game.
UCF plays No. 10 seed Florida State tomorrow (Saturday) at noon in Tallahassee.
- This is 7th time UCF has won at least 40 games in a season.
- This is 4th time UCF has won the first game of regional (‘08, ‘10, ‘15, ‘21)
- Alea White is only the second Knight to get a win in her NCAA Tournament debut, joining Allison Kime in 2008 Gainesville Regional.
- This was Cindy Ball-Malone’s first NCAA Tournament win as a head coach.