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Softball Falls in Series Finale to No. 4 Cowgirls, 6-4

by Ryan Ladika

Stillwater, Okla. – The UCF softball team staged a late offensive rally for the second time in as many days on the strength of DP/RHP Sona Halajian’s efforts on both sides of the ball, but the Knights came up just short, dropping their series finale to No. 4 Oklahoma State, 6-4, at Cowgirl Stadium Sunday afternoon.

Halajian turned in one of her strongest performances since joining the Black and Gold (14-11, 2-4 Big 12) prior to the spring’s commencement, throwing four innings of one-run ball out of the bullpen and hitting a key three-run home run in the top of the sixth inning that, at the time, trimmed the Knights’ deficit to just 5-4.

“We didn’t do things that we should be doing,” said head coach Cindy Ball-Malone. “We didn’t play the way we normally play. Especially in this last game, we did some things well enough to win, but we can’t out-hit some of the defensive mistakes and miscues that we had. Just have to get better at that, especially in this conference.”

With UCF staring up at a 5-0 deficit following two innings of play, Halajian was called upon by the Knights’ sixth-year head coach for her eighth relief appearance of the season. The redshirt-senior transfer calmed the storm with a 1-2-3 third inning that included a pair of groundouts and a flyout.

“Mentally, I’m just sticking to my game, my basics,” Halajian said. “Trusting my defense, our defense is amazing. My teammates are incredible, I know that they have my back and they support me. It’s a really great group. Going in, just trying to do my best.”

Halajian worked around a two-out walk in the fourth with a trio of flyouts, and calmly navigated her way through a perfect fifth inning with two more groundouts and a pop out.

The day after rallying for four runs in the top of the fifth inning Saturday, the Black and Gold again orchestrated a late surge at the plate. After she hit one of UCF’s two two-run home runs Saturday, Stormy Kotzelnick ignited the Knights Sunday rally with a one-out walk, and right fielder Savannah Adams added a two-out single to set the table for Halajian.

Despite falling behind in the count 1-2 to Cowgirls (24-3, 5-1 Big 12) reliever Lexi Kilfoyl, Halajian grooved a two-strike offering over the left-center field fence, slugging her first home run as a Knight and her first long ball since her seventh-inning solo shot against Missouri during the 2023 NCAA Norman Regional May 20.

“I’ve been working a lot, it’s been a bit of a road, but the plan was to go in and golf it. I’ve been working on it and it finally came together, which was nice,” Halajian said.

Halajian’s crucial hit, coupled with Chloe Evans’ RBI single in the top of the third inning, brought the Knights to within one run, but Oklahoma State answered with an insurance run in the home half of the sixth and stranded a pair of Knights on base in the seventh to send UCF to its two-run defeat.

Halajian finished her day with one run allowed on two hits with one strikeout in four innings pitched, while also recording a 1-for-2 day at the plate with her three-run shot.

“It’s a good thing every single day,” said Ball-Malone of the Knights’ caliber of competition in their new conference. “It’s going to keep going that way, next weekend is not going to be any different. That’s our reality now, and we’ll see how tough we get and how much better we get each day.”


After dropping their three games in Stillwater, the Knights return home to square off against their second straight top five nationally-ranked opponent in the No. 3 Texas Longhorns. First pitch for the series-opener is set for 6 p.m. Friday evening from the UCF Softball Complex, and will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.


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