Knights Advance to NCAA Regional Championship

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The UCF softball team (41-18-1) will play in an NCAA regional championship for the fifth time in program history as the Knights took down Kennesaw State (27-27) Saturday evening at the Seminole Softball Complex in Tallahassee, Florida to eliminate the Owls and secure their spot against Florida State (41-10-1) in the regional championship game.

UCF will take on Florida State at 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 23. The Knights dropped their first game to the Seminoles on Saturday afternoon, falling 3-0, before bouncing back in the win over Kennesaw State.
Because the Knights lost to Florida State and the Seminoles have yet to lose a game so far in the regional, the Knights will need to win game one on Sunday to force a game two, which would take place at 4:30 p.m. ET.

"Defensively and pitching-wise, we played a very solid day today," said head coach Cindy Ball-Malone. "I truly believe that this group has the ability and the capability to bring our best game and make some competitive softball come about tomorrow."
Friday, May 21
UCF 5, Auburn 4
Florida State 6, Kennesaw State 2
Saturday, May 22
UCF 0, Florida State 3
Auburn 0, Kennesaw State 1
UCF 2, Kennesaw State 0
Sunday, May 23
UCF vs. Florida State – 2:00 p.m. ET (Broadcast TBD)
*If Florida State loses, a second game will be played


The bats were silenced in game one on Saturday as the Knights were held scoreless, tallying just three hits to fall, 3-0, to regional No. 1 seed Florida State.
UCF had its chances to get on the board but came up short on multiple occasions. The Knights were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, including stranding the bases loaded in the fifth inning.
The Seminoles called on Caylan Arnold to start. Arnold was lights out, tossing 4.2 innings of shutout ball and allowing just three hits while striking out six to move to 10-6 on the year. Following her out of the bullpen was Danielle Watson, who was equally as impressive, closing the game out with 2.1 shutout innings. Watson did not allow a hit and struck out one to pick up her first save of the season.
Meanwhile, UCF starting pitcher Gianna Mancha was on her game as well. Mancha held the Seminoles hitless through 4.1 innings before surrendering a solo home run in the fifth inning. After surrendering another two-run home run in the seventh, Mancha was pulled for Breanna Vasquez, who faced three batters and recorded three outs, including a strikeout, to get the Knights back into the dugout.
Unfortunately, UCF would not rally in the seventh and fell, 3-0, to the Seminoles. The Knights then had to wait for Auburn and Kennesaw State, the two teams in the loser's bracket, to face off at 2:30 p.m. to find out who they would play next.

Key Moments

  • Back-to-back walks with two outs in the bottom of the first had UCF threatening early, but Karissa Ornelas struck out after a 14-pitch at-bat to end the inning and keep the game tied at zero.
  • The Knights again threatened to get on the board in the fourth inning with runners on first and second, but a strikeout ended the inning to maintain the 0-0 tie.
  • The Seminoles struck first in the top of the fifth as Cassidy Davis hit a solo home run for Florida State's first hit of the game to give them the 1-0 lead.
  • The Knights loaded the bases in the bottom of  the fifth, but Jazmine Esparza popped up to the infield to end the inning.
  • Davis homered again in the seventh, this time a two-run shot, to extend Florida State's lead to 3-0. 

GAME TWO – UCF 2 // Kennesaw State 0

In her first career NCAA Tournament start, Alea White was nothing short of dominant, throwing a complete game shutout to guide UCF to the 2-0 win and avoid elimination. With the win, UCF secured a spot in the regional championship, where the Knights will do battle with Florida State at 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 23.
The Knights scored both of their runs within the first two innings, and that's all White needed. White picked up career victory No. 99 in the complete game effort. Tossing seven shutout innings, she allowed just seven hits while striking out a pair to move to 22-7 on the season.
"I was just trusting in my stuff and letting the defense work behind me," said White.
Jada Cody was 2-for-3 in the win, including scoring the first run of the game in the first inning after a two-out double put her in scoring position. Going 1-for-3, Jazmine Esparza drove in the lone RBI of the game to give the Knights the lead. The second UCF run came courtesy of a Kennesaw State misplay.

Key Moments

  • The Owls threatened with runners on the corners and just one away in the top of the first but a line drive to shortstop Kaitlyn Jensen turned into a double play to end the inning and keep the game tied at zero.
  • With two away in the bottom of the first, Jada Cody doubled and came around to score on a Jazmine Esparza RBI single, giving the Knights the early 1-0 lead.
  • Kennesaw State threatened again the top of the second with runners on second and third and just one away, but an infield pop up and a fly ball ended the inning to get the Knights back into the dugout with the one-run lead.
  • Shannon Doherty doubled with one away in the bottom of the second and came around to score on a Kennesaw State error, moving UCF's lead to 2-0.
  • The Owls threatened in the top of the seventh with two runners on but White induced the infield pop up to get the final out and secure the 2-0 UCF victory.


  • The win in game two marked UCF head coach Cindy Ball-Malone's second as a head coach in the NCAA Tournament.
  • With the win, UCF moves to 41-18-1. The 41 wins are the seventh most in program history and this is the seventh time in program history that the Knights have had at least 40 wins in a season (2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2021).
  • The win marked UCF Softball's first ever over Kennesaw State in the NCAA Tournament.
  • It is the fifth time in program history that the Knights have won at least two games in an NCAA regional (2008, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2021).
  • This is UCF Softball's fifth regional final (2008, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2021).
  • Alea White is just the third UCF pitcher to throw a shutout in the NCAA Tournament in program history, joining Allison Kime (vs No. 1 Florida in 2008 Gainesville regional) and Shelby Turnier (vs FAU in 2016 Gainesville regional). 
  • White is just the second UCF pitcher to win two games in the same regional in program history, joining UCF Athletics Hall of Famer Allison Kime (2008, Gainesville regional). 

Stay tuned to UCF Softball on Facebook (/UCFSoftball), Twitter (@UCF_Softball) and Instagram (@UCF.Softball) for the latest on the UCF softball team.

Never miss any UCF Knights news from your favorite team by downloading the free UCF Knights app right to your iOS or Android phone! The app provides personalized information for men's and women's teams, scores, schedules, loyalty programs and even breaking news. Download the app here.