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Softball Clinches First Big 12 Series Win with 3-2 Walk-off over Kansas

Felton spins eight innings of two-run ball, Evans hits eighth-inning, game-winning double

by Ryan Ladika

ORLANDO – “It all goes to ‘work while you wait.’ It doesn’t matter what the role is or what you’re going through in that moment. If you’re getting called, you better be ready.”

Stormy Kotzelnick kept her mind right waiting her turn, and when her number was called, she delivered.

Striding to the plate with her team trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two outs in her second plate appearance off the bench, the redshirt-junior transfer came through.

She lined a 2-2 pitch into left-center field to tie the game at two runs apiece, injecting new life into the UCF softball team’s (14-7, 2-0 Big 12) offensive efforts and paving way for its eventual 3-2, eight-inning walk-off win Saturday afternoon over the Kansas Jayhawks (13-7-1, 0-2 Big 12), provided by another key two-out hit in Chloe Evans’ game-winning double.

With the win, the Knights, donning their Canaveral blue SpaceU uniforms as part of the squad’s third Space game of the season, clinched their first Big 12 Conference series win in their first opportunity and extended their overall win streak to five straight with their 14th win of the spring.

UCF’s late offensive heroics in the team’s second come-from-behind win of the season provided just enough support for junior right-hander Kaitlyn Felton, who yielded only two runs in a career-high eight innings of two-run ball with four strikeouts.

“Just a great team win,” said head coach Cindy Ball-Malone. “The performance of Kaitlyn in the circle, she got stronger as the game went on. Our defense making great plays behind her, and the clutch hitting. To have (Stormy) here and in that situation and have her come through, that’s what she’s here to do.”

In stifling the Jayhawks throughout her eight innings, Felton hearkened back to former Knights right-hander Kama Woodall’s 11-inning gem against then-No. 24 Michigan during the 2022 Orlando Regional May 21, drawing a bit more strength from the thought of her former teammate’s extra-inning effort.

“It felt great. I thought back to my freshman year when Kama was out there for (11) against Michigan,” Felton said with a smile. “Once it started getting later in the game, I thought ‘If Kama can go (11), I can go at least 10.”

After she allowed a Kansas run in the top of the first inning on two hits and one walk, Felton yielded just one more tally in her next seven innings of work throughout the afternoon. Dancing out of danger on multiple occasions throughout her ninth appearance and seventh start of the season, she was buoyed by another strong defensive effort behind her.

In the top of the fourth inning, Kansas managed a one-out single, and following a fielder’s choice out, Evans delivered in the field on the Jayhawks’ second hit of the inning, throwing out the runner attempting to advance to third base.

In the top of the eighth, third baseman Jada Cody picked up her pitcher with two on and two out, snaring a line drive ground ball to third and stepping on the base to record the force out and keep Kansas off the scoreboard.

In addition to representing a personal career-high, Felton’s eight innings marked the most in a single game by a Knights pitcher since Sarah Willis tossed eight innings of one-run ball in UCF’s 2-1 walk-off win over South Florida April 21, 2023, a game also won by an Evans walk-off hit.

“I started slowing my routine down a little bit, taking my time, and realizing that I didn’t have to try to throw as hard as I could if I just spun the ball well,” Felton continued. “(My defense) is always making big plays, I love it. It comes at the best times.”

After Kotzelnick came through for her team in the sixth inning, she did it again with an instrumental two-out single in the eighth, helping set the table for Evans. Utility player Katie Burge followed with an infield single of her own, and Evans ended the affairs with a liner down the right field line, marking her third walk-off hit since transferring to UCF from Minnesota prior to the 2023 season.

“I owe that one to the dugout, for sure,” Evans said. “We were on the pitcher that game, and making sure we were sharing a lot of good information. Continuing to feed off our dugout, feed off of what we’ve learned and what we’re seeing. It was a really exciting moment. I knew I had a job to do, just to finish it off strong.”

In helping set the table, Kotzelnick improved her line in three space games to 4-for-8 (.500) with three runs scored, one double, one home run, five RBI and eight total bases, while Evans recorded her third consecutive game with a double and extended her on-base streak to seven consecutive games, hitting .409/.458/.591 (9-for-22) with five runs scored, four doubles, six RBI and 13 total bases in that span.

“It’s awesome,” Kotzelnick said of the walk-off win. “I think it’s an even greater moment to me in history that we just won our first Big 12 series. For Chloe to get that moment, that was huge for us. That was exactly the kind of win this team needed, and to do it in walk-off fashion is the cherry on top.”


UCF looks to complete the sweep over Kansas in the series finale Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. from the UCF Softball Complex, and the game will be streamed on Big 12 NOW on ESPN+.


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