No. 23 Knights Set For Rematch With No. 5 Florida

Stats Watch Notes

UCF vs Florida
Wednesday, April 14 | 6:00 PM
Live Stats | Watch

ORLANDO – The No. 23 ranked UCF softball team is set for a rematch with No. 5 Florida on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. as the Knights will do battle with the Gators at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.
The Knights faced Florida at the UCF Softball Complex on March 24. UCF battled from down 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh to ultimately walk it off and win 8-6.

Since that game, Florida has posted a 9-1 record and is hitting .311 (80-for-257) with 12 doubles, a triple and 15 home runs. The pitching staff also holds a 1.70 ERA and .187 opposing batting average through the last 66.0 innings.

Conversely, UCF has posted a 9-3 record and is hitting .278 (93-335) with 14 doubles and 12 home runs, while their pitching staff has posted a 2.10 ERA and .234 opposing batting average over 86.1 innings pitched. 
Wednesday night's game with the Gators will be streamed live on SECN+.

Florida is has dropped just four games all season to sit at 30-4, 10-2 heading into Wednesday. The Gators' only losses are to then No. 16 Florida State (7-2), then No. 9 Kentucky (4-2), then No. 20 Georgia (4-2) and UCF. The Gators were off to a 14-game win streak before falling to the Seminoles.

Since their inaugural year in 1997, the Gators have been to 10 Women's College World Series, winning two national titles along the way (2014, 2015).

Florida is led offensively by Hannah Adams and Charla Echols, batting .434 and .378, respectively. The pair combine for 15 home runs to this point in the season.

In the circle, Elizabeth Hightower leads the team with 100.1 innings pitched, or nearly 45 percent of her team's innings. She owns a 1.40 ERA and has allowed just a .153 batting average against.

Before UCF'swin over Florida earlier this year, the Knights last beat the Gators on April 4, 2018.  Alea White turned in a one-hit, shutout performance and catcher Cassady Brewer led the way offensively for the Knights, going 3-for-3 and driving in the lone run of the game. The Knights are 5-21 against the Gators all-time.

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 (one against No. 5 Florida and four against Houston). Cody 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.

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. 23. The Knights are no longer the sole AAC team to make an appearance in the top 25 as Wichita State, who the Knights are set to play over the week, is now at No. 25. The Knights were also ranked No. 23 in the JWOS Top 25 Poll, No. 23 in the D1 Softball poll and No. 25 in the USA Softball/ESPN rankings.

The Knights' have taken down two top-five ranked teams in the country to this point in the season in No. 5 Florida (March 24, 8-6) and No. 2 Arizona (March 8, 2-0). UCF has played six games 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, No. 5 Florida 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.

Heading into the week, the Knights are first in The American and 16th in the nation in doubles (53) and first in the conference and 17th in the nation shutouts (10). UCF first baseman Jazmine Esparza is ninth in the country and leads the conference with 13 doubles herself. In the circle, Alea White's 14 victories have her tied for seventh in the country and first in the league in that regard.

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 on Feb. 21, 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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