War on I-4 Walk-Off Winner

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - In the bottom of the ninth inning in the series-deciding War on I-4 contest, UCF freshman left fielder Kyra Klarkowski stepped to the plate and delivered a walk-off single to right, lifting the Knights to a 5-4 victory on Saturday afternoon at the UCF Softball Complex.

"Kyra wanted it so badly," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "She kept talking about what pitch she was going to be looking for. When she saw that fastball on the outside [corner], she knew that was an opportunity to score that runner from second base. She laid into that one. She was pretty excited about coming through for her team."

The Palmetto, Fla., native was congratulated by her teammates on the right side of third base. The Knights celebrated with the walk-off hero, who clinched the series and two more points in the War on I-4 Rivalry Series. UCF now holds a 40-20 advantage in the all-sports battle.

"I was just confident," Klarkowski said. "I had seen that pitcher a couple times and felt that I could hit her hard. After [Tiffany Lower] slid into second base safe [on a fielder's choice], I was fired up, then [Jazmine Esparza] looked at me and gave me a nod. She basically said, 'You got this!'"

UCF (23-19, 7-5 The American) was paced by senior designated player Linnea Goodman and sophomore catcher Cassady Brewer with two hits each. The victory in the circle was notched by freshman Alea White (16-11), who yielded just two earned runs on five hits.

"We know that every time we go up against South Florida it is going to be a tough challenge," coach Gillispie said. "We knew the rubber match was going to be tough. It was going to come down to whoever wanted it the most."

The Knights continued their dominance of South Florida, improving their record to 9-4 since joining The American and taking each three-game set.

Four-Run First

  • The Knights responded to USF scoring an unearned run in the first inning by sending nine players to the plate and pounding out five hits, leading to four runs.
  • UCF used three-straight singles up the middle by senior designated player Linnea Goodman, sophomore catcher Cassady Brewer and junior third baseman Courtney Rotton to push across the first run.
  • After a walk loaded the bases, back-to-back base knocks by seniors Willow Kalinen and Brittany Solis stretched the Knights' lead to 3-1.
  • A wild pitch following a Bulls' pitching change increased the UCF advantage to 4-1

Escape Artists

  • The Knights #PlayGold defense came up with a number of stellar plays to limit USF scoring opportunities.
  • Freshman Alea White showed off the leather in the fifth inning by catching a line drive in the circle, halting a USF bases-loaded rally.
  • After USF tied the game, 4-4, in the seventh inning and had the go-ahead run at second base, a diving catch towards foul territory by junior third baseman Courtney Rotton on a sinking liner put two outs on the board.
  • With a runner at second base one inning later, senior shortstop Brittany Solis fielded a groundball and threw to third base, erasing the lead runner.
  • The Bulls once again threatened in the ninth frame with a runner at third base and one out. A popped up bunt put two away before White fielded a grounder in the circle and fired to first base, just beating the speedy slapper to set up the walk-off opportunity.

Next Up
UCF hits the road for a matchup with No. 3 Florida on April 19 in Gainesville. First pitch on SEC Network+ is set for 6:05 p.m.

Season tickets for the 2017 campaign start at $50 for adults and $25 for youth (ages 2-17). For more information about season and individual game tickets, click here.

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