Evening Up the Series

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – UCF used a two-run fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie and even the series against UConn with a 3-2 victory Saturday afternoon. Freshman first baseman Jazmine Esparza blasted a solo home run and picked up two hits to pace the Knights. The rubber match between the Knights and Huskies is set for noon Sunday at the UCF Softball Complex.
Senior pitcher Manami Calixto worked out of a bases loaded jam for UCF (24-21, 8-6 The American) in the third inning and tossed four frames to pick up her third victory of the season. Freshman Damara Begin notched her first save by facing four Huskies (16-27, 2-11 The American) in the seventh frame.
The Knights two-run fourth frame was started by senior right fielder Willow Kalinen, who was plunked by a pitch. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native moved to second on a ground out and crossed the plate on a clutch single by freshman designated player Ali Little, who made her first start of the season. Senior left fielder Linnea Goodman increased the lead to 3-1 by delivering a two-out RBI single down the right field line.
First Blood

  • For the second game in a row, the Knights scored the first run.
  • Freshman first baseman Jazmine Esparza led off the second inning by connecting on a solo homer to left field.
  • The round tripper was the first for the Knights since freshman Autumn Gillespie hit a homer on Mar. 26 against Houston.

"Jaz didn't have a bigger smile on her face the whole season. She got a hold of a great pitch and took care of business. She knew what she was looking for and waited for her pitch."
- Head Coach Renee Luers-Gillispie
"I saw one pitch and knew that she was going to throw that same pitch again. I got a hold of it. Running the bases knowing that I started everything provided me with a lot of confidence. I knew that we were going to have a good game today."
- Freshman Jazmine Esparza
Pitching by Committee

  • The Knights used three pitchers in the contest and each found success during their outing.
  • After a quick two innings for freshman starter Kamryn Toney, UConn loaded the bases and pushed across the tying run.
  • Senior Manami Calixto entered the circle and struck out the first batter, then induced a pop up to get the Knights out of the inning without any further damage.
  • After a walk led to a UConn run in the sixth frame, freshman Damara Begin came on in the seventh inning to notch her first career save.

"We planned to pitch by committee today. Kam came in and went through the lineup one time. Seeing [Manami] come in with the bases loaded and get us out of the inning was huge for us."
-Head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie
"It is all about us trusting each other. All of the pitchers trust each other when someone comes in. I was really proud that Damara came in and got those outs."
- Senior Manami Calixto
#PlayGold Defense

  • In the fourth frame, the Huskies had the go-ahead run at second. A single up the middle appeared to be enough to plate the run, but freshman center fielder Kyra Klarkowski threw a dart to sophomore catcher Cassady Brewer, who tagged the runner to end the frame.
  • Senior shortstop Brittany Solis made a couple great plays on high choppers with strong, quick throws to first base. 

"It's all about coming in and being calm and having confidence in my defense. When you trust your defense, they make everything easy."
- Senior Manami Calixto
Next Up
The Knights will recognize their four seniors, Manami CalixtoLinnea GoodmanWillow Kalinen and Brittany Solis, following their final game at the UCF Softball Complex on Sunday at noon. Fans can play softball bingo and pick up trading cards of the Knights' four seniors.

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