The No. 23 UCF Knights Softball team made a statement this weekend in the War on I-4 series in Tampa, sweeping the South Florida Bulls in a three-game AAC showdown and extending their current win streak to 18 games (29-7), which is 3rd-longest currently in the nation behind Oklahoma and UCLA.
UCF announced themselves as team to beat in The American and joined the conversation of possible hosts for the NCAA Tournament.
Let’s go around the bases to break down the Knights’ sweep of the Bulls.
1st: Gianna Mancha Enters AAC Pitcher of the Year Race
⚔ KNIGHTS WIN! ⚔— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 27, 2022
WON THE WAR! Gianna tosses a one-hitter to secure the sweep of S. Fla.! #ChargeOn ⚔ #WarOnI4 pic.twitter.com/4ffZZqEPbC
Going into the weekend, it was a foregone conclusion that Georgina Corrick would win her fourth AAC Pitcher of the Year award. That may still happen, but Gianna Mancha entered the conversation this weekend, going 2-0, including a one-hit shutout on Sunday, and striking out 10 in a head-to-head pitchers’ duel against Corrick.
In the two starts, Mancha gave up 2 runs and 3 hits with 19 strikeouts and 4 walks in 14 innings pitched, with wins on Friday (5-2) and Sunday (3-0) to improve to 12-2 on season with 1.85 era on season.
2nd: Kennedy Searcy Was Offensive MVP
Knights in front early! ⚔️ #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/oRIScvrUzI— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 27, 2022
Searcy is the most underrated player on the Knights. They are different team with her in the lineup. In two years with Searcy, the Knights are 55-16 (77%) with her in the lineup, and only 15-6 without her, with runs scored and hitting as a team all down when she doesn’t play.
That was on display this weekend, as Searcy went 4/7 with two homers and three runs scored.
The first homer came on Friday in the top of 6th, with the game tied 2-2. Searcy took Corrick deep:
KNIGHTS LEAD! Kennedy takes Georgina DEEP to left!#ChargeOn ⚔ #WarOnI4 pic.twitter.com/5gLsC4lfjW— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 25, 2022
On Sunday, Searcy set the tone in first inning against Corrick:
THIS ONE MAY HAVE LANDED IN ACTUAL SOUTH FLORIDA! #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/eFayaHogpU— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 27, 2022
Coming into series, Corrick had only given up 3 earned runs in 148 innings pitched on only three homers. In her two starts this weekend, Corrick gave up 8 earned runs in 14 innings pitched and gave up three homers, with two of those coming from Searcy.
3rd: Jada Cody and Shannon Doherty Are Amazing
Our first sweep of the bu s in program history!#ChargeOn #WarOnI4 pic.twitter.com/1HwTj26hgZ— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 27, 2022
Jada Cody and Shannon Doherty continue to amaze. Let’s start with Doherty, who set the tone in Saturday’s 7-2 win with a 2-run homer in the 1st.
That one left the yard in a hurry #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/mg9km6J9xY— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 26, 2022
It was Doherty’s 5th homer of the season and 18th of her career, which moves her into 6th place all-time. Doherty also played fantastic first base all weekend, and is hitting .356 on the year.
On Sunday, Doherty was hit by a pitch for the 12th time this season, breaking the season record previously held by Vanessa Perez.
Cody drove in a run in Saturday’s win for her 51st RBI of season.
The @NCAASoftball leader in RBI tallied one more tonight as she climbs UCF's single season charts!#ChargeOn ⚔ @jada_cody99 pic.twitter.com/GAipX81UyL— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 27, 2022
On Sunday, Cody got to Corrick in the anticipated matchup between the NCAA’s RBI and ERA leaders.
CODY CRUSHES CORRICK! @NCAASoftball's leader has two more!#ChargeOn ⚔ #WarOnI4 pic.twitter.com/uh0hgIiRG9— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 27, 2022
It was Cody’s 10th homer of season, making her the 9th player in program history to hit 10 or more home runs in season. It is also Cody’s 20th career HR, making her the 6th Knight to reach that mark. She also played great defense at 3rd base and catcher.
Home: Denali Schappacher Makes SportsCenter
THE SLIDE #NCAASoftball #SCtop10 x @UCF_Softballpic.twitter.com/Lr1GVNi2YW— NCAA Softball (@NCAASoftball) March 26, 2022
The turning point of the series took place in the top of the 5th on Friday.
With the Knights down 2-0, Justene Molina got a hit that drove in one for sure, but Schappacher headed home for a second run and looked like she was an easy out at home, but she avoided All-Conference catcher Josie Foreman to tie the game:
.@Denali_schap into the #SCTop10! ⚔️ #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/l0riZhPSGx— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) March 26, 2022
From that point on, UCF outscored USF 13-2 the rest of the weekend. It will go down as one of most memorable scoring plays in UCF Softball history.
On Deck: The Knights have big mid-week game at top ten Florida on Wednesday night, followed by hosting a big three-game series against top-5 Virginia Tech on Sunday and Monday.