The #18 UCF Knights Softball team took two of three in Houston to improve to 39-11 on the season and 11-1 in American play, the best start to conference play in program history. Jada Cody and the Knights made history this weekend in Houston.
Let’s go Around the Bases:
1st: Searcy’s Grand Slam Wins Friday Opener
The Knights opened the series with a 4-1 win in 8 innings on Friday night to match the 2004 UCF team that started 10-0 in the A-Sun. Kennedy Searcy hit a grand slam in the top of the 8th inning to break a scoreless tie.
The biggest moment of the first 7 innings came in the bottom of the 2nd with Johneshia Rowe robbed Houston’s Britaney Shaw of a three-run homer:
Gianna Mancha picked up the win, going all 8 innings while giving up one run on three hits to improve to 17-3 on the season.
2nd: Justene Molina Is a Big Game Baller
Justene Molina may not jump out to people but no player makes more winning plays in games than her. She plays great 2nd base defense. But she is more than a defense player.
Molina was the best player of the weekend for the Knights on both sides of the ball. On Sunday had her first career two home run game.
On Saturday, UCF scored 4 of their 5 runs with two outs, thanks to timely hitting and good base running, highlighted by Justene Molina here:
The Knights would go on to win 5-1 to become the first UCF team to ever start 11-0 in any conference.
UCF Hall-of-Famer Natalie Land split her career at shortstop and second base. If you consider Land as a shortstop, Molina likely goes down as the second-best full-time 2nd basemen in program history behind only Kahley Novak (2012-2015).
3rd: Jada Cody Gets to 60 RBI
Jada Cody made history with her three-run homer in the top of the 3rd on Sunday, as she joined UCF Hall-of-Famer Stephanie Best as the only Knight players in the 20 years of the program to ever drive in 60 runs in a season.
Currently Cody is tied for second-most ever with Best’s 2005 season, and six behind Best’s 66 runs batted in. Cody has reached the mark faster than Best, doing it in just her 50th game of the season, compared to Best doing it in her 59th game in 2003 and 77th game in 2005.
Home: Nobody’s Perfect
Sunday, the Knights lost to the Cougars in a wild 9-8 game, suffering thier first conference game of the season and drop to 11-1. In the end human beings play and coach these games, not robots, which means things won’t always go as planned or as well as you would like, and that was the case in Sunday’s loss as four critical errors contributed to Houston coming from six down to win on their senior day and ending the Knights’ bid to go perfect in conference.
The good news is, despite the loss, everything is still in front of the Knights. UCF is on top of the conference by one game over Wichita State and is ranked 15th in Monday’s RPI, which still has them firmly in the mix for possibly hosting an NCAA regional.
But Sunday serves as a reminder that you can be your own worst enemy sometimes and get yourself beat in the end. UCF must use this as a lesson as it’s still young group moving forward to the last two weeks of the regular season and postseason.
On Deck: UCF will host the final series of the regular season against Tulsa. They will celebrate seniors Mancha, Kama Woodall, Denali Schappacher, Justene Molina, Damaria Cannon, and Cassidy Cangemi on Senior Weekend.