Knights Take Two From ECU to Open Series

ORLANDO – The Knights got off to a perfect start to their weekend on Friday, taking down ECU in consecutive games as part of a doubleheader at Max R. Joyner Family Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina. UCF won 4-3 in 11 innings in game one before striking back with a 9-5 win in game two.

The wins move UCF to 27-9, 7-3 on the year.

"From start to finish today, we really played like ourselves," said UCF head coach Cindy Ball-Malone. "I like how we had some shutdown innings in crucial situations, and I liked how our offense struck back when ECU scored runs of their own.

"I think we are starting to realize who we are as a team and what we can do."


Clocking in at almost four hours and needing 11 innings to determine a winner, game one on Friday was a true marathon, but the Knights were able to outlast the Pirates, scoring in the top of the 11th to go up 4-3 and Alea White shut the door out of the bullpen to give UCF the win and help the Knights start the series off 1-0.

White was instrumental in the win for UCF, coming into the game in the sixth inning to relieve starting pitcher Gianna Mancha, who finished the day with 5.2 innings pitched, allowing three earned runs while striking out six. Following her out of the bullpen, White was literally un-hittable, holding ECU to no runs on no hits over 5.1 innings of work while striking out four to earn the win and move to 14-3 on the season.

At the dish, freshman Katie Burge got her fourth start of the season in center field and did not disappoint, turning in a 4-for-5 day and securing the RBI single to give the Knights the go-ahead run in the 11th that led to UCF's 4-3 win.

"This win was such a great demonstration of grinding and really playing through it," said Ball-Malone. "They stuck in there and played defense, and Gianna and Alea threw so well to keep us in that game. Our pitchers are complimenting each other very well right now. It's huge for us to have the pitching performances we had today. I'm feeling very good about who we have as options to go in the circle."
Key Moments

  • UCF leadoff hitter Kennedy Searcy was hit by a pitch to lead off the game for the Knights and came around to score on a Georgia Blair RBI single to right field, giving the Knights the 1-0 lead.
  • ECU struck back in the third as an RBI single from shortstop Ashleigh Inae got the Pirates on the board to tie the game at one
  • The next batter, Rachel McCollum, hit a two-run home run to give ECU the 3-1 lead.
  • With the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the fourth, UCF pinch hitter Juliana Wilson hit a sacrifice-fly to drive in a run, and an ECU error allowed another Knights runner to cross the plate and tie the game at three
  • Kyra Klarkowski led off the top of the 11th for the Knights with a base hit to right and came around to score on a Katie Burge RBI single to left center, giving the Knights the 4-3 lead late.


The Knights kept their momentum from game one rolling right along into the second game of the day as UCF posted nine runs on 14 hits to take down the Pirates, 9-5.

Four pitches into the game, the game was suspended due to weather, and about 45 minutes later, play resumed.

UCF starting pitcher Alea White allowed a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, but the Knights struck right back with two of their own in the second. Unfortunately, White could not maintain the tie, allowing three more ECU runs to score in the bottom of the second to fall behind 5-2.

White was pulled after two innings for Breanna Vasquez, who was phenomenal in the circle for UCF. In five innings of relief, Vasquez did not allow a single run. She allowed just two hits and struck out four to earn the win and move to 3-1 on the season.

Although Vasquez came in the game behind 5-2, that did not last for long as the Knights would go on to score seven unanswered runs over the final five frames of the game to win 9-5.

Shannon Doherty was a perfect 4-for-4 in game two with two home runs, the first multi-home run game of her career. She also notched three RBI. Jazmine Esparza was also dangerous with the bat in her hands in game two. Esparza was 2-for-4, including a double and a game changing three-run home run in the fourth to give UCF the 6-5 lead. She finished the night with four RBI total.

"Jaz just kept building off her first at-bat and then just kept going from there," said Ball-Malone. "And Shannon, I love to see her using all of the field and hitting for the situation. Her first pitch home run really reminded us 'we're going to be fine, let's swing free and swing easy and go.'"

Key Moments

  • An ECU double in the bottom of the first put them out in from 2-0 early.
  • Shannon Doherty hit a solo home run in the top of the second to cut UCF's deficit to 2-1.
  • Karissa Ornelas followed with a walk and came around to score on a Jada Cody double to left center, tying the game at two.
  • A UCF error in the bottom of the second allowed the Pirates to go in front 3-2.
  • The next ECU batter doubled to drive in two more and extend their lead to 5-2.
  • With runners on first and second and one away, Doherty singled up the middle to cut the Knights' deficit to 5-3.
  • Jazmine Esparza hit a three-run home run in the top of the fourth to put UCF out in front, 6-5.
  • Doherty hit a solo home run, her second of the day, in the top of the seventh to give the Knights an insurance run and put their lead at 7-5.
  • Later in the inning, Jada Cody came around to score on a wild pitch to move the Knights' lead to 8-5.
  • Still in the top of the seventh, Jazmine Esparza hit an RBI double to right center to drive in a run and put UCF up 9-5.


  • The Knights played a combined 18 innings on Friday.
  • Freshman Katie Burge went 4-for-5, including securing the game-winning RBI single in game one.
  • Shannon Doherty's two home runs in game two marked her seventh and eighth home runs on the season.
  • Alea White's start in game two was the 125th of her career, tying her with Mackenzie Audas (2012-15) for the UCF record for most starts.
  • With the win in game one, White recorded career win No. 91, tying her with head coach Cindy Ball-Malone, who also had 91 career victories in college when she played for University of the Pacific from 1999-2002.

The Knights will continue their series with the Pirates on Saturday as the two sides are set to square off in game three of four at 2:00 p.m.
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