UCF Softball Set to Open Season at FGCU

Series Notes Watch Live Live Stats

Feb. 13 | 4:00 p.m.
Watch | Live Stats

Feb. 13 | 6:00 p.m.
Watch | Live Stats

Feb. 14 | 1:00 p.m.
Watch | Live Stats

Feb. 14 | 3:00 p.m.
Watch | Live Stats

ORLANDO – The UCF Softball team will be back in action for the first time in almost a year as the Knights will head to Fort Myers, Fla. for a four-game series with FGCU over the weekend.
The Black and Gold will kick things off Saturday afternoon with their first of two double-headers. Game one is set for a 4:00 p.m. first pitch, followed by a 6:00 p.m. game two. On Sunday, game one will be at 1:00 p.m. with the final game of the series set to start at 3:00 p.m.

All four games will be have live stats available and will be streamed live on Youtube.

The Knights are 5-0 all-time against the Eagles headed into the weekend. The two sides last faced off in 2017, with UCF coming out on top, 5-3. Only three players remain from that 2017 team in Jazmine Esparza, Alea White and Kyra Klarkowski, who were all three freshmen at the time.
White came in relief to throw 2.2 innings in the win, allowing no runs and striking out two. Klarkowski went 1-for-2 at the dish, and Esparza came in as a defensive replacement.
FGCU produced a 19-8 record in 2020 before the season was ultimately canceled. Johneisha Rowe was scorching hot at the plate as she led the team with a .481 batting average, swiping 18 bags (18-of-20), ending her season with a .571 on-base percentage. In the RBI column, Haley Morrell and Hope Hernandez were tied for the team lead with 18.
In the circle, the pitching unit combined to post a 2.45 ERA. Marissa Mesiemore led the group with nine wins while Sarah Lawton was right behind her with eight.

    Head Coach Cindy "Bear" Ball-Malone is gearing up for year three with The Black and Gold. In the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, Bear led her Knights to a 21-5-1 overall record (.777 winning percentage) that included an 11-game winning streak from Feb. 14 through March 1 and wins over then No. 12 Tennessee and No. 16 Michigan.

    The Knights secured the best start in program history as they were off to a 16-2 record to start the year. They finished the season ranked seven in the NCAA RPI and 21 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. It was one of the best teams in program history, but unfortunately, the pandemic brought the hot start to an abrupt end.
    Before the conclusion of the 2020 season, White was on pace to become UCF's all-time winningest pitcher, needing just four more wins to claim first place with 81 career victories. White also owns several other top-10 program career records, including ERA (2.36), strikeouts per seven innings (4.85), innings pitched (767) and appearances (143) just to name a few. During the 2020 season, she tossed three complete game shutouts and was named American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week (Feb. 10), marking the ninth time she earned the award in her career.
    The American Athletic Conference released its 2021 Preseason Softball Coaches' Poll in January and UCF was predicted to finish first overall in the conference for the third time in program history.

    The Knights, who last won AAC titles in 2014 and 2015, received six out of seven first-place votes, garnering 36 total points to claim the top spot in the poll over in-state rival South Florida. The Bulls were second with 31 points and just one first-place vote after being predicted to finish first in 2019 and 2020.

    It marked the third time the Knights have been voted as the favorite to win the conference as they were also tabbed as favorites in 2015 and 2016.
    UCF heads into 2021 with almost all of its key players returning from 2020's historic team, including seniors Alea WhiteJazmine Esparza and Kyra Klarkowski, who each announced they would be returning for this season to take advantage of the extra season of eligibility granted by the NCAA after the COVID-19 pandemic forced an abrupt end to all spring sports in 2020.
    Many around the country are expecting big things from the Knights in 2021, so it should come as no surprise that UCF is ranked in multiple national preseason polls. UCF checks in at No. 21 in the  USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Preseason Coaches' Poll, No. 22 in the D1 Softball preseason poll and No. 25 in the USA Softball/ESPN preseason rankings.

    The NFCA/USA Today ranking marks the second highest UCF has ever received in the poll to begin the season as the Knights were ranked No. 17 headed into the 2016 campaign. UCF also received votes to begin the 2017 and 2015 seasons.

Stay tuned to UCF Softball on Facebook (/UCFSoftball), Twitter (@UCF_Softball) and Instagram (@UCF.Softball) for the latest on the UCF Softball team.

Never miss any UCF Knights news from your favorite team by downloading the free UCF Knights app right to your iOS or Android phone! The app provides personalized information for men's and women's teams, scores, schedules, loyalty programs and even breaking news. Download the app here.