UCF Knights Softball started the 2024 season with a 4-1 weekend, beating Howard, Seattle, and Georgia State, earning a split with UConn, and outscoring its opponents 33-8. It is the fourth time in the last five seasons the Knights have started 4-1.
Let’s go Around The Bases and see what we learned this weekend about the 2024 Knights:
1st: A Balanced Offense
Five Knights drove in at least three runs in the first five games of the season.
Shannon Doherty drove in four runs this in the first five games, which put her at 130 career RBIs, which is one behind Jazmine Esparza for fifth all-time at UCF.
Kennedy Searcy led the way with seven RBI while being one of four Knights to hit a homer. Jada Cody drove in three runs and hit her 33rd career home run in the bottom of the 5th inning of Thursday’s win over UConn to tie Jania Shinhoster (2002-2005) for second place all-time at UCF.
With her first long ball of the spring, Jada is now tied for second-most in program history with the 33rd of her career! pic.twitter.com/Lip89U3MGW— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) February 9, 2024
UCF hit .331 with 42 hits and 12 Knights getting at least a hit. Johneshia Rowe had six hits to tie for the team lead.
2nd: UCF’s Future Looks Bright
There were moments during the weekend where we saw the future of the Knights program with Sophomore Aubrey Evans playing shortstop along with Freshman infielders Samantha Rey and Sierra Humphreys.
Humphreys and Rey are part of a freshman class that was ranked 16th best in the country. Rey got started at second base in Sunday’s win, chipping with two hits. Humphreys got starts at SS, 3B, and DP going 4/10 with two runs batted in.
3rd: Sarah Willis Leads Deep Staff
Willis has picked up right where she left off in 2023, pitching 8.2 innings over the weekend, only giving up one run on three hits while notching a team-high 13 strikeouts and picking up two wins over UConn and Georgia State.
Willis is now 21-3 in her Knights career, but was not the only Knight pitcher who stood out this weekend.
Kaitlyn Felton threw 6.1 innings of shutout ball in the win over Seattle on Friday night to lead the Knights to their first 3-0 start to a season since the 2020 season.
The Knights also have two lefty arms in the pitching staff in Angelina DeVoe and Ava Justman, who were strong out of the bullpen. Justman, a junior transfer, threw 2.2 innings in relief, giving up no runs on two hits while recording a save.
DeVoe threw 8 shutout innings in relief without giving up a hit while recording six strikeouts and picking up the win over Howard.
Home: Busy Week Ahead
UCF plays six games this week with four of them against teams that played in the NCAA Tournament last season.
It starts this Wednesday with the Knights hosting Liberty, followed by a trip to Clearwater for the marquee ESPN Tournament where UCF will play North Carolina and Wisconsin on Friday with Kentucky on Saturday. They wrap up the tournament Sunday against Northwestern and UCLA.
The game against the Bruins will air on ESPN at 6 p.m.