Esparza Energizes Knights

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – After a 5-3 setback vs. Iowa State in game one of a doubleheader, UCF freshman first baseman Jazmine Esparza was inserted into the lineup and sparked the Knights to an 11-3 six-inning victory in the night cap Tuesday at the UCF Softball Complex. The walk-off, two-run single on Military/First Responders Knight was delivered by sophomore designated player Tiffany Lower.
"Today, I ended up being a little bit of a spark," Esparza said. "I came up when we were tied and I knew that I had to get on base to start us off. I did so with a double. I just knew every single time that I came up that I needed to be a spark."
With the score tied 3-3, Esparza led off the fourth frame with the first of her two doubles into the left-center gap. The Sylmar, Calif., native came around to score the eventual game-winning run later that inning on a groundout. She finished the contest by going 3-for-4 with two RBI.
"[Jazmine Esparza] really stepped up today," said freshman pitcher Damara Begin. "It shows that even though we are young as a team, we can go out there and play 110 percent against teams we need to beat."
Begin made her second-career start and notched her first victory at UCF (14-10). The Delta, B.C., native tossed all six innings and fanned two batters, while conceding just one earned run against Iowa State (11-15).
"It was really awesome being able to go out there and help my team get a win," Begin said. "I know that my team has my back 100 percent. Even if I make a mistake, they are going to be there to pick me up in every aspect of the game."
Following singles by sophomore catcher Cassady Brewer and senior right fielder Willow Kalinen in the fifth frame, Esparza connected on a two-out double to left field that stretched the Knights lead to 6-3.
"Sparking the team really helps keep me in a positive mood," Esparza said. "It is important knowing that I have done something to help the team out. It is just a big relief and allows all of us to be a little more relaxed at the plate."
Junior second baseman Courtney Rotton started a rally in the sixth inning with a double down the left field line. Two walks, a hit batter and an error increased the UCF advantage to 9-3 before Lower came through with a two-run infield single, implementing the eight-run rule.
Tough Start

  • The Knights held a 3-0 lead entering the six inning in game one, but Iowa State batted around and scored five times in that frame on its way to the victory.
  • UCF struck first with a pair of runs in the second inning on RBI singles from senior left fielder Linnea Goodman and junior centerfielder Megan Greenwell.
  • Junior second baseman Courtney Rotton, sophomore first baseman Cassady Brewer and senior right fielder Willow Kalinen notched base hits in the third frame, but the Knights were unable to extend their lead.
  • UCF took advantage of a pair of walks in the fifth frame to extend their lead to 3-0. Brewer got caught in a rundown between first and second base, which allowed Rotton to cross the plate.
  • Brewer, Goodman and Kalinen finished the contest with multi-hit games.
  • Freshman Kamryn Toney(4-2) was handed the loss after tossing five innings. The final two frame were closed out by Begin.

Next Up
The Knights face their third Big 12 foe of the season with a weekend series against No. 15 Baylor. The three-game set begins on Friday at 6 p.m. at the UCF Softball Complex.

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