Opening Split

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - UCF started the season with a 10-2 run-rule victory over Florida A&M in six innings, but were unable to carry the momentum over to the nightcap against Pittsburgh in a 6-0 defeat Friday at the UCF Knights Invitational. The Knights saw junior Courtney Rotton pace the squad with three hits, while freshman Aubrey Johnson delivered a pair of base knocks and drove in two runs at the UCF Softball Complex.

The victory over the Rattlers was notched by senior Manami Calixto (1-0), who fanned two and yielded a pair of runs. The Knights struck first, but FAMU bounced back to take a 2-1 lead in the second inning. UCF used an eight-run third frame to retake the lead, 9-2, after pushing across a run in the first inning.

"We had an opportunity to be able see their pitcher for a few innings and make some adjustments," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "It's fun when whenever somebody starts hitting, because it's contagious. Everybody was just hitting, feeling good about themselves and really coming through with some big hits."

An impressive debut was registered by freshman pitcher Alea White (0-1), who kept Pitt off the scoreboard over the first four innings with five strikeouts. The Panthers did touch her up for five runs before freshman Kamryn Toney came on to toss the final two frames.

Impact Freshmen

  • Pinch hitter Ali Little registered a walk-off double in the sixth inning that implemented the run-rule against the Ratters.
  • A base hit in each game was tallied by Johnson, who scored the game-clinching run following a double to leadoff the sixth frame.
  • Behind the plate, Autumn Gillespie caught two runners attempting to steal and added a base hit.
  • Third baseman Tamesha Glover drove in a run with a bases loaded walk.
  • Reserve roles were also played by third baseman Jazmine Esparza and outfielder Kyra Klarkowski.
  • Two hurlers also made their debut in White and Toney.

"They are all stepping up. I can't look at one player on this team that isn't doing their job and stepping up. We are really working as a team."
- Head Coach Renee Luers-Gillispie

Eight-Run Third

  • Facing a 2-1 deficit in the third inning vs. FAMU, the Knights tallied eight runs on five hits to take a 9-2 advantage.
  • Sophomore first baseman Cassady Brewer, Rotton and Gillespie started off the frame with consecutive singles.
  • A bases loaded walk and wild pitch scored two runs before Johnson delivered a two-RBI single and push the advantage to 5-2.
  • Following a hit batter, senior outfielder Linnea Goodman stepped in the box and came through with a two-run double to left.
  • Senior shortstop Brittany Solis capped the frame with a sac fly.

"It's great to see how every single player can contribute. It's going to be a team effort, because we can't rely on just one person to get that big hit. We know that every single person on the team can go up to bat and do something."
- Senior outfielder Linnea Goodman

Heads Up Defense

  • Sophomore first baseman Cassady Brewer tagged out two runners coming back to the bag following singles.
  • The Knights erased a pair of base runners trying to swipe second base on tags applied by Solis, who delivered a double vs. Pitt, on throws by Gillespie.
  • The infielders and outfielders were perfect in the doubleheader, which included contributions from Glover and Johnson at second and third base, respectively.

Next Up
The Knights are back in action on Saturday with a doubleheader against No. 20 Kentucky at 3:30 p.m. before meeting FAMU for a second time at 6 p.m.

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