Softball Dominant in Opening Day Victories

ORLANDO – The No. 21 ranked UCF Softball team could not have asked for a better start to the 2021 season than what they got on Saturday, coming away with two big wins over FGCU in Fort Myers, Fla. The Knights, who were in action for the first time in almost a year following the cancellation of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, exploded for 13 and eight runs, respectively, while allowing no FGCU player to cross the plate in either game.

The 13-0 game one win was the largest opening day margin of victory in UCF Softball program history and the 21 combined runs over the first two games are the most UCF has ever scored through its first two games of the season.

"I think just being out there and seeing everybody have fun playing the game again was awesome. The wins were just icing on the cake," said UCF head coach Cindy Ball-Malone. "It was really nice to see all the players smiling through their masks because they were having so much fun out there."

Game One – UCF 13 // FGCU 0The Knights wasted no time at all getting on the board in 2021, scoring four runs on four hits in the first inning of game one.
The UCF lineup was firing on all cylinders, posting a total of 13 runs on 15 hits, including two home runs. One of those long balls came off the bat off shortstop Georgia Blair, who was a perfect 3-for-3 in the contest. Kennedy Searcy, Jazmine Esparza and Justene Molina also turned in multi-hit performances to help lead the Knights to their largest margin of victory on opening day ever.
On the mound, 13 runs would prove to be more than enough support for UCF starting pitcher Alea White (1-0), who finished the day with eight strikeouts and no runs allowed to earn her 19th career shutout. White came into the contest needing just four more wins to become UCF's all-time winningest pitcher (81). With the win in game one, she secured career victory No. 78.

  • UCF freshman left fielder Kennedy Searcy led off the game with a single and a stolen base.
  • Searcy was followed by Juliana Wilson, who reached with a walk.
  • Both Searcy and Wilson came around to score courtesy of a Georgia Blair single to left that put UCF up 2-0.
  • Justene Molina and Karissa Ornelas each followed with RBI knocks of their own to extend the Knights' early lead to 4-0.
  • Molina again singled in the top of the third to put UCF up 5-0.
  • Starting pitcher Alea White faced trouble in the fourth, allowing back-to-back base hits to start the inning, but quickly retired the next three FGCU batters in order to keep the Eagles off the board.
  • Blair hit an opposite field home run in the top of the fifth to lift the Knights' lead to 7-0.
  • Searcy smoked a single in between the 3-4 gap in the top of the sixth, scoring Kyra Klarkowski to put UCF up 8-0.
  • With runners on first and second later in the same inning, Wilson knocked a three-run home run out of the park to give the Knights the 11-0 lead.
  • Hayley Bejarano continued the inning with an RBI-single to put UCF up 12-0.
  • With the bases loaded still in the sixth, Klarkowski walked in a run, putting the Knights lead at 13-0.

Game Two – UCF 8 // FGCU 0The Knights kept their game one momentum rolling right into the second contest as UCF once again took a first inning lead courtesy of a Julianna Wilson home run.
Wilson, Kennedy Searcy, and Kyra Klarkowski all had multiple hits in the win, and Wilson's first inning home run was her second of the day, already tying her 2020 total. In total, the Black and Gold scored eight runs on 12 hits.
Senior pitcher Gianna Mancha (1-0) got the call to start and did not disappoint, tossing a complete game shutout. Mancha allowed just four hits on the night while striking out five.

  • Game two started the exact same way as game one, with a Kennedy Searcy single and a stolen base to put pressure on the Eagles early.
  • Julianna Wilson followed with a two-run home run to right, her second of the night, to put UCF up 2-0.
  • Jazmine Esparza hit an RBI-double in the second to drive in Kyra Klarkowski and extend the Knights' lead to 3-0.
  • Georgia Blair hit a solo home run in the fourth, her second of the night, to put the Black and Gold up 4-0.
  • The Knights took advantage of a couple of FGCU miscues in the fourth to go up 6-0.
  • In the same inning, Shannon Doherty walked with the bases loaded to extend the UCF lead to seven.
  • The next batter, Justene Molina ripped a single to left, scoring one to give the Knights the 8-0 final lead.


  • With the start in game one, Alea White claimed sole possession of second place all-time in career appearances with 144. She now trails only Mackenzie Audas (150)
  • With the win, White now has 78 career victories. She needs just three more to claim sole possession of first place with 81 career wins
  • The 13-0 win in game one marked the largest margin of victory on opening day in UCF Softball history
  • After hitting two home runs as a freshman in 2020, Juliana Wilson has already tied that mark by hitting two more out of the park in Saturday's wins.
  • Similarly, Georgia Blair hit a home run in both games.
  • The 21 combined runs are the most UCF has ever scored through its first two games of the season
  • The two wins mark just the second time the Knights have ever started the season with two shutouts (2015).

[On the offense]
"This offense is so dynamic. All 22 of our hitters have the ability to hit all types of pitching, and our ability to use our speed and put pressure on the defense allows us to kind of open up and swing big when we need too."

[On the two shutouts]
"Our offense and pitching really go hand-in-hand. The offense takes the pressure off the pitching because they know they can score runs, and the pitchers are then able to throw freely and let the defense behind them is fantastic as well. Our pitchers have also been challenged on a day-to-day basis since September because they've had to face our own offense in practice. FGCU can swing it, but I really love how our pitchers adapted and moved the ball around."

[On starting 2-0]
"I think just being out there and seeing everybody have fun playing the game again was awesome. The wins were just icing on the cake. This group believes in themselves because they are so prepared. They really stress the importance of the process and preparation, so I think just having fun now allows them to be more confident as well. It was really fun to see them smiling through their masks because they were having so much fun out there."

The Knights will be back at it on Sunday for another doubleheader with FGCU. Game one is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. first pitch with game two set for 3:00 p.m.

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

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