The Battery

Video - Pitchers/Catchers YouTube

ORLANDO, Fla. ( – With new faces in the circle and behind the plate, continues its preview of the team with a look at the battery on Monday.
In the circle, the Knights have one returner – senior Manami Calixto -  and three freshmen – Alea White, Demara Begin and Kamryn Toney – making up their pitching staff.
Redshirt freshman Autumn Gillespie is going to be handling the relatively young pitching staff behind the plate. The Redlands, Calif., native earned the starting catcher's spot as a freshman, but an injury forced her to redshirt following 12 starts.
"Autumn has a great arm as a catcher and is a tremendous athlete," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "She gained valuable experience last year and understands what it mean to play at the college level. It is going to be fun seeing her develop over the next four years."
Gillespie was tough against would-be base stealers, catching two of five runners last year while also registering three pickoffs. She also found success at the plate, recording a .361 average with two doubles, one home run and four RBI.
The depth behind the plate also includes sophomore Cassady Brewer, who started two contests in 2016 and further mastered the position during the fall.
The Knights brought in a trio of freshmen to help replace the contributions of Shelby Turnier, an All-American, who graduated last year after setting the UCF wins (80) record.
"The pitchers will be working this year as a committee," Gillispie said. "They are all supportive of each other and are willing to work together and fight for one another."
Returning for her senior campaign, Calixto made 19 appearance a year ago after transferring from Miami-Dade State College. She posted a 9-1 mark with 34 strikeouts.
"Manami has improved her velocity, which has also increased her movement," Gillispie. "She is a senior now and wants the opportunity to step up and lead this team."
The Curitiba, Brazil, native notched a season-high five strikeouts against Yale on Feb. 26. She was also a part of seven shutouts last season.
After recording over 1,000 career strikeouts at Cambridge Christian, White begins her first season at UCF. The Land O'Lakes, Fla., native earned a trio of all-state and district player of the year accolades.
"Alea is definitely someone to watch," Gillispie said. "She's a competitor and has a great arsenal of pitches. She does a great job of mixing things up, which keeps batters guessing."

Begin caught the eye of fellow Canadian assistant coach Tiffany Jordan on a recruiting trip. The Delta, B.C., native earned South Delta Secondary Female Athlete of the Year following her freshman and sophomore campaigns.
"Demara is going to eat up some innings and provide some depth," Gillispie said.
Toney is another talented freshman that tallied 276 strikeouts and compiled a 0.53 ERA as a senior at Heritage High School. The Covington, Ga., native received four all-region honors during her career.
"Kamryn came in with some solid pitches and has developed a few more in her repertoire," Gillispie said. "She is probably one of the hardest workers we have in the bullpen right now and is always willing to learn something new."
The duo of Gillespie and Brewer behind the plate are tasked with leading this pitching staff that is ready to step up entering the 2017 campaign.

The Knights are preparing for the season-opening doubleheader on Feb. 10 at 3:30 p.m. against Florida A&M and Pittsburgh. The four-team UCF Knights Invitational also features Kentucky, who the Knights play on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Season tickets, which includes admission to all 28 home contests, can be purchased for $50. Youth packages are also available for fans ages 2-17 for $25. For more information about ticket options, click here.
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