It took four hours and 15 minutes, but Kama Woodall, Maddie Bejarano, and the UCF Knights knocked off the Michigan Wolverines 3-2 in 11 innings at the UCF Softball Complex on Day Two of the NCAA Tournament Orlando Regional on Saturday, and are headed to the regional final, scheduled for Sunday.
Bejarano collected two of the most clutch hits in UCF history — one to tie the game in the bottom of the 7th with UCF down to its final strike, and the other with one out to drive home Micaela Mercario and finish off a thriller for the ages.
Game tying hit AND game winning hit!— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) May 21, 2022
Maddie B is the definition of clutch! pic.twitter.com/4JC0Ay9wHL
The win pushed UCF into the Regional Final in their first time hosting the NCAA Regionals.
Bejarano’s first clutch hit capped off a comeback from down 2-0 with just four outs to go. It started with Ashley Griffin’s RBI double in the bottom of the 6th to pull UCF within a run:
In the following frame, with Johneshia Rowe standing on third and facing a 2-2 count with two out, Bejarano lined a pitch to the gap in right-center, bringing Rowe home and tying the game:
Bejarano finished 2/3 with two doubles and two RBI, but that stat line just doesn’t capture the drama of what Bejarano did.
K Is For Kama
The other helmet sticker for the day goes to UCF starter Kama Woodall, who went all 11 innings, throwing an astounding 181 pitches, and striking out a career-high 10 Wolverines.
The 11 innings sets a new UCF record for innings pitched in an NCAA Tournament game, held previously by Allison Kime (2008) and Jamie Ujvari (2016). The 10 Ks also sets a new record, previously held by Mackenzie Audas, who struck out nine each in UCF’s two games during the 2012 Gainesville Regional.
Woodall’s performance was all the more remarkable considering that it took place on a 90-plus-degree and humid day. While she went the distance, Michigan had to burn three pitchers, and starter Megan Beaubien had to re-enter with one out in the bottom of the ninth after initially going 5 2⁄3 innings.
Meanwhile, Woodall got stronger as the game went on. After Michigan opened the scoring in the second on an RBI single by Annabelle Widra, their second run scored in the fifth as the result of an error and was thus unearned. Woodall stranded seven Michigan runners on the day and allowed only two Wolverines to reach base in extra innings.
Woodall and Bejarano spoke after the game alongside head coach Cindy Ball-Malone:
The Knights are 2-0 in a regional for the first time in school history. The Knights have been to the regional final in each of the last five times they have been to the tournament, but haven’t broken through to the Super Regionals yet.
One more win would push the Knights further in the NCAA Tournament than they have ever gone.
Get Tanner to Orlando
One last note on Bejarano: She shared after the game how she wanted her brother, Tanner, who has Down Syndrome, to come to Orlando from Arizona to see her and the Knights in the Regional Final:
My favorite and first call after this win!!!! pic.twitter.com/mDIbAN4MME— Mads (@maddie_siera) May 21, 2022
As of Saturday night, #UCFTwitterMafia is still working to get Tanner to Orlando.
The Road Ahead
UCF will face the winner of an elimination game between Michigan and the winner of Villanova and South Dakota State, who are scheduled to finish their elimination game Sunday morning at 10 a.m. after thunderstorms delayed it after the fifth inning on Saturday night, tied at 1-1.
The winner of that game faces Michigan immediately after.
The Knights are scheduled to play next on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. against the winner of the Michigan vs. SDSU/Villanova game.
If the Knights lose, they face a winner-take-all game at 4:30 p.m.:
SCHEDULE UPDATE— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) May 22, 2022
Tonight's Orlando Regional games have been pushed to tomorrow.
Gm. 4: 10:00 a.m. - @VUSoftball 1, @GoJacksSB 1, End 5th
Gm. 5: 11:30 a.m. - Winner of Gm. 4 vs. @umichsoftball
Gm. 6: 2:00 p.m. - Winner of Gm. 5 vs. UCF
Gm. 7: 4:30 p.m. - If Necessary pic.twitter.com/7Piq9PnajE
As far as the weather is concerned, it looks like it should hold up, according to Meteorologist Eric Burris of WESH. The chance for rain is expected to increase late in the afternoon, possibly after a Game 7, should the day go that long:
Another hot one, but another chance for showers and storms.— Eric Burris (@EricBurrisWESH) May 22, 2022
Later start, but a bit lower coverage of rain. Today 50% coverage of showers and storms... pic.twitter.com/wDJr8mrRAe
All the Knights have to do is win once, and they head to the best-of-three Super Regionals for the first time ever.
The Orlando Regional winner faces the winner of the regional final between the tournament’s overall 1-seed Oklahoma and Texas A&M, who are scheduled to play in Norman Sunday at 2 p.m.
If Texas A&M pulls off the upset and beats Oklahoma twice, and UCF wins the Orlando Regional, then UCF could host the Super Regionals against the Aggies. If Oklahoma wins just once, the winner of the Orlando Regional goes to Norman next week.
This story has been updated. Stay with @UCFBanneret_SBN on Twitter for the latest updates.