Softball Heads to Tulsa

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UCF at Tulsa
Thuirsday, April 1 | 6:00 PM
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UCF at Tulsa
Friday, April 2 | 4:00 PM
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UCF at Tulsa
Friday, April 2 | 6:00 PM
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UCF at Tulsa
Saturday, April 3 | 12:00 PM
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ORLANDO – The UCF softball team will be back at it on Thursday as head coach Cindy Ball-Malone and her No. 22 ranked Knights head to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a four-game conference series with the Golden Hurricane from April 1-3.
The Knights opened conference play against Houston at home last weekend, sweeping the Cougars in four games to open league play undefeated for the first time since 2019. UCF is off to a roaring 24-6 start to the season that includes two wins over top five teams in No. 2 Arizona (2-0) and No. 5 Florida (8-6).
UCF will open its series with Tulsa on Thursday at 6:00 p.m., square off against them again on Friday in a doubleheader with start times schedule for 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., and wrap up play with a noon first pitch on Saturday.
All four games against Tulsa will be streamed live on ESPN+.

With only a handful of games under their belt, Tulsa is off to a 9-7 start to the year. After dropping its first three games of the season to RV Texas A&M, Tulsa was able to go on to win its next four. The Golden Hurricane will open the conference portion of their schedule against the Knights.

UCF did not fare so well it its last trip to Tulsa in 2019 as the Knights were swept in three games. Tulsa would go on to post a 37-20 record that season before their year came to a close with a loss to then No. 13 Oklahoma State in the 2019 NCAA Stillwater Regional.

The Hurricane return four seniors from the 2020 team in Kassidy Scott, Alexis Perry, Kyndal Pirtle and Sarah Briers.

Junior infielder Kylie Norwood leads the team with a .377 batting average while senior Alexis Perry paces the team with four long balls. In total, Tulsa currently has four starters batting over .300

The Knights are 20-24 in their all-time series against Tulsa. Since joining The American in 2014, UCF is 11-6 against The Golden Hurricane.

The Knights have already had two Knights earn national Player of the Week award for their efforts on the diamond. On March 30, Jada Cody was named the D1 Softball national Player of the Week. Cody was scorching hot over the week for UCF as she finished the week batting .438 with two home runs, two doubles, four RBI and five runs scored in five games. She hit a walk-off solo home run against Houston to give UCF the 2-1 win and she was an integral part in the Knights' toppling of No. 5 Florida. Against the Gators, Cody was 2-for-4 with a double, including one in the bottom of the seventh that scored a runner from first and tied the game before she came around to score the winning run.

Meanwhile, UCF senior Gianna Mancha was named the Wilson/NFCA National Pitcher of the Week on March 16 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 March 15, Mancha was named the American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for the second week in a row.

Despite going 5-0 and beating the No. 5 team in the country, UCF is still holding relatively steady in several national polls. The USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Coaches' Poll was released on Tuesday and the Knights were at No. 22 for the second straight week. 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, although Wichita State is receiving votes. The Knights were also ranked No. 17 in the JWOS Top 13 Poll, No. 19 in the D1 Softball poll and No. 21 in the USA Softball/ESPN rankings.

The Knights' win over No. 5 Florida on Wednesday marked their second top-five win of the season after they also won 2-0 against No. 2 Arizona on March 8. It was UCF's sixth game against a top-25 opponent in 2021 as the Knights have already done battle with then No. 20 Mizzou (L, 6-5), No. 2 Arizona (W, 2-0) and No. 24 South Carolina (L, 9-1, L, 4-2, W, 10-4). UCF's matchup with the Gators marked just the second time in program history that the two sides have squared off while ranked in the top 25. The first time was on Feb. 25, 2015 when then No. 15 UCF lost to then No.1 Florida, 2-1, in Gainesville.

The Knights are leading the American Athletic Conference in a number of categories and are near the top of the national rankings in several areas as well. Heading into the weekend series with Tulsa, UCF leads the league in batting average (.343), doubles (42), shutouts (eight) and win-loss percentage (.800). UCF's .343 batting average is 11th in the nation while their eight shutouts rank 20th.

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. 

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