UCF Walks Off No. 5 Florida, 8-6

ORLANDO – Wednesday night's game was one that will not be soon forgotten for the Knights as No. 22 UCF battled with No. 5 Florida all the way to the end before the Knights came from behind late to hit a walk-off home run and take down the Gators, 8-6 at the UCF Softball Complex.

The loss marked just the third of the season for the Gators, with their only other losses coming to top-25 programs (No. 16 FSU and No. 9 Kentucky). It was UCF's first time beating Florida since April 4, 2018, when the Knights shut out then No. 4 Florida, 1-0 at the UCF Softball Complex.
Meanwhile, the win moved the Knights to 20-6 on the season and was their second win over a top five opponent this season (No. 2 Arizona, 2-0).
"That was a fight from our offense. I just loved how they made adjustments and passed the bat," said head coach Cindy Ball-Malone. "I love the maturity and experience that this team showed. They are supposed to be there and they are acting like it."
The Knights jumped out to an early, 1-0 lead over Florida but the UCF lead wouldn't last long as the Gators posted a five-run third inning to take a 5-1 edge.
Despite the early deficit, UCF would battle back with a big inning of their own, posting four runs, including two home runs in the bottom of the third to tie the game at five.
That score would remain until the Gators took a one-run lead on a sacrifice-fly in the sixth, putting them up 6-5.
Down to their final three outs, the Knights' leadoff hitter reached to start the bottom of the seventh and, after a hard-fought, eight pitch at-bat from Jada Cody that saw her foul off four pitches, Cody tied the game with an RBI double to center field. With just one out and Cody in scoring position, UCF backstop Karissa Ornelas battled before hitting a two-run, no doubt home run to give UCF the 8-6 walk-off victory.
In the circle, Gianna Mancha got the call to start. Mancha allowed four earned in 2.1 innings before giving way to Alea White, who was credited with the win after tossing 4.2 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on just three hits and striking out five. With the win, White is 11-1 on the season.

Key Moments

  • The Gators threatened in the top of the first as their first two batters of the game reached via walks, but UCF starting pitcher Gianna Mancha sat down the next three straight to escape the jam and get the Knights back in the dugout.
  • Kennedy Searcy led off the bottom of the first with a walk and came around to score via a Georgia Blair RBI double to right to put UCF up 1-0.
  • Gators' third baseman Charla Echols hit a double to right in the top of the third to drive in a run and tie the game at one.
  • Two batters later, Jordan Matthews walked with the bases loaded to drive in another Florida run, putting them up 2-1.
  • The next batter, Julia Cottrill, hit a two-RBI double to left to extend Florida's lead to 4-1.
  • Later in the inning, a sacrifice-fly would give the Gators a 5-1 advantage.
  • Kennedy Searcy led off the bottom of the third with a walk and was followed up by Georgia Blair, who hit a home run to left to cut the Knights' deficit to 5-3.
  • The next batter, Shannon Doherty, hit a solo shot to bring UCF to within a run.
  • Later in the inning, Knights' center fielder Kyra Klarkowski hit a sacrifice-fly to drive in a run and tie the game at five apiece.
  • A Florida sacrifice-fly in the sixth would give them the late 6-5 edge.
  • With a runner on first and no outs, Jada Cody smacked a double to straight away center field to drive in a run and tie the game at six.
  • With Cody on third and one out, Karissa Ornelas hit a deep home run to left-center field to give UCF the 8-6 walk-off victory.


  • The win marked the Knights' second win over a top five opponent this season.
  • The win marked UCF's 700th as a program.
  • With the win, Alea White becomes the only Knight to have beaten the Gators twice (April 4, 2018).
  • With the home run, Georgia Blair became the first Knight to hit 10 or more home runs in a season since Kayln Cenal did it in 2015 (11).
  • It was the Knights' first win over the Gators since April 4, 2018
  • With the walk-off, Karissa Ornelas became the second Knight to hit a walk-off against the Gators since Allison Kime did it in 2008 (May 18, 2008).
  • The loss was just Florida's third of the season, all to top 25 teams. The Gators had previously only lost to then No. 16 FSU on March 6, 7-2, and then No. 9 Kentucky on March 14, 4-2.

After 26 non-conference games to begin the season, UCF will officially kick off league play on Friday, March 26 as the Knights will welcome Houston to town for a four-game series from Friday through Sunday. The Knights will do battle with the Cougars in a doubleheader on Friday, with games at 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., before playing Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and capping things off with a noon first pitch on Sunday.
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