No. 20 UCF Set for Series with No. 24 South Carolina

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No. 20 UCF at No. 24 South Carolina
Saturday, March 20 | 2:00 PM
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No. 20 UCF at No. 24 South Carolina
Saturday, March 20 | 5:00 PM
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No. 20 UCF at No. 24 South Carolina
Sunday, March 21 | 1:00 PM
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ORLANDO – No. 20 UCF is head to Columbia, South Carolina for the weekend as the Knights are set for a three-game series with the No. 24 Gamecocks.
The Knights will play South Carolina twice on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. before wrapping the series up with a 1:00 p.m. Sunday matinee.

All three games will be broadcasted live on SEC Network+.

South Carolina was 17-6 in the shortened 2020 season and are off to a similar 15-6 start to 2021. They came into the year ranked 19 in the NFCA/USA Today Preseason Top 25 Coaches' Poll but have since dropped to 24 overall. They are 0-4 against top-25 teams in 2021.

The Gamecocks have struggled as of late as they were swept by No. 19 Arkansas in their opening conference series before bouncing back with two wins over Gardner-Webb University.

South Carolina is 190-85 (.690) at home during the Beverly Smith era and have lost more than 10 games at home in a single season just three times in her ten years, but the Knights are strong on the road as they are 7-2 away from The Plex this season.

The Knights are undefeated all-time against South Carolina after winning all five of their previous contests. UCF's last win over the Gamecocks came in 2015, with a 5-2 win at a neutral site.
The Knights split their midweek doubleheader with UNF on Wednesday, falling, 9-7, in a heartbreaking game one walk-off loss before bouncing back big to win game two, 9-1 in Jacksonville, Fla. With the win in game two, UCF secured the series victory as the Knights also beat UNF, 8-0, on March 3 in Orlando. The Knights have yet to lose a full series with a team in 2021.

Following a week that saw the Knights go 5-0, including taking down then No. 2 Arizona, the Knights are climbing in several national polls. The USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Coaches' Poll was released on Tuesday and the Knights checked in at No. 20. The Knights, who were predicted to finish first in the American Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll in early January, are the sole AAC team to make an appearance in the top 25. The Knights were also ranked No. 15 in the JWOS Top 25 Poll, No. 20 in the D1 Softball poll and No. 21 in the USA Softball/ESPN rankings.

The Knights are leading the American Athletic Conference in stolen bases, and it's not even close. UCF is 38-for-46 (.830) in stolen base attempts, with the second closest AAC team Memphis, at 19-for-23 (.830). While we're at it, UCF also leads The American in batting average (.357), ERA (2.08) and runs scored (149) just to name a few.

UCF senior Gianna Mancha was named the Wilson/NFCA National Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday after posting one of the best weeks in program history. Mancha was called on to start three times over the week, guiding the Knights to three victories, including over then No. 2 Arizona. Mancha tossed 20 scoreless innings and allowed just seven hits and no runs while striking out 30. On Monday, Mancha was named the American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for the second week in a row. After Monday, Mancha is 7-1, owns a team-low 1.23 season ERA and has 69 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched. The Wilson/NFCA National Pitcher of the Week award marks the fourth in program history as Shelby Turnier won the award three times (Feb. 17, 2015, March 31, 2015 and April 7, 2015). Stephanie Best was also named the NFCA Player of the Week on March 19, 2003.

Australia native and UCF senior Georgia Blair has been on an absolute tear to begin the season. Heading into the series with South Carolina, Blair is slashing .403/.537/.839 with a team-high eight home runs, 25 RBI and 52 total bases. She has accounted for 23 percent of the UCF offense to begin the season. In 2020, Blair became the fastest Knight to ever get to six home runs, needing just 15 games to do so. This year, she did it in eight games. Blair has safely reached base at least one time in all 16 of the Knights game this season.

UCF Softball has a new all-time wins leader in Alea White. White secured career win No. 81 in the series finale over New Mexico State, passing Shelby Turnier as the winningest pitcher in program history. On the mound, White was lights out in her record-setting performance. She was perfect through four and threw a complete game, allowing no earned runs on just four hits while striking out eight. 

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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