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Softball Earns First Big 12 Sweep with 5-4 Walk-Off Win over BYU

by Ryan Ladika

ORLANDO – “We made history today.”

Knights second baseman Aubrey Evans’ declaration rang true moments after delivering one of UCF’s biggest hits of the 2024 season thus far.

The sophomore infielder strode to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning, simply looking to move her teammate, Stormy Kotzelnick, over to third base after the latter led off the frame with her second double, and third hit, of the afternoon.

“Stormy leading us off, she’s been hot, seeing the ball well. She did her job and got on base,” Evans said of her teammate. “All I was thinking was I just have to move her over, nothing too much.”

She accomplished her goal, and then some. Evans drove the first pitch of her fourth at-bat of the afternoon down the right field line, allowing Kotzelnick to score from second base and delivering her team a 5-4 walk-off win over the BYU Cougars at the UCF Softball Complex April 6.

The victory marked the Knights’ (21-15, 7-8 Big 12) fifth straight, seventh in their last eight games, and sixth come-from-behind win of the season, and clinched the first Big 12 Conference series sweep in program history as well.

“We’re excited to be able to say that, we’ve been waiting a little bit for that,” said head coach Cindy Ball-Malone. “That was our goal today going in, we talked about it. We played really well this weekend. We still need to clean up a few things to play a whole solid 21 innings, or in this case 22 innings.”

Evans’ game-winning hit drove in her team’s third run of the afternoon in the fifth inning or later, after the Knights rallied for one in the fifth and another to tie the game at four in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Trailing 3-2 in the home half of the fifth, Shannon Doherty produced a key one-out single to right-center field that put the tying run on base. Ball-Malone opted for freshman outfielder Alexis Morgan to run for her first baseman, and Morgan responded with her first collegiate stolen base to move into scoring position.

Later in the frame, Chloe Evans came through with a single back up the middle, allowing Morgan to score from second base to knot the game up at three.

The Black and Gold again needed a rally in the bottom of the seventh after the Cougars responded with a score in the top of the sixth, and the team once again accomplished its goal thanks to a leadoff baserunner produced by Doherty.

The veteran drew a walk to kick off the frame and was replaced on the basepaths by Samantha Delhoyo, who scored the crucial game-tying run on a single to left field by Sona Halajian.

“We’re going to run with that, I think we did a really good job,” Aubrey Evans said of her team’s momentum. “We saw the fight in us, I think that’s huge, and we’re ready for some more. We trust in our preparation, we leaned on each other and we couldn’t be more excited.”

UCF first broke the ice in the bottom of the second inning, when Chloe Evans scored from second base on a deep sacrifice fly to right-center field and Kotzelnick singled home Halajian behind Chloe, the marking the first of Kotzelnick’s three-hit showing.

The Knights’ timely offensive exploits once again supported a strong effort by their pitching staff, led by 3.1 scoreless frames authored by Sarah Willis and a game-clinching 2.1-inning effort by Kaitlyn Felton in locking up her team-leading eighth win of the season.

Willis danced around traffic throughout her afternoon start, punching out three to keep BYU scoreless despite issuing four free passes. When the Cougars rallied against the right-hander in the fourth inning, Ball-Malone called upon southpaw Angelina DeVoe to calm the storm.

She did just that, inducing a groundout to shortstop Jasmine Williams and a flyout to left fielder Katie Burge to escape a bases-loaded, one-out threat unscathed.

Felton also impressed in clinching her second win in as many games, retiring seven of the eight hitters she faced while adding a pair of strikeouts in her Saturday showing.

Kotzelnick in the winning effort, meanwhile, notched her first three-hit game as a Knight, and in UCF’s first five space games this season is hitting a team-best .533/.563/.933 (8-for-15) with four runs scored, three doubles, one home run, six RBI and 14 total bases.

Her three-hit showing also represented the 12th game of her last 16 in which she has hit safely, and the redshirt-junior in that span boasts a .340/.377/.480 (17-for-50) line with five runs scored, four doubles, one home run, seven RBI and 24 total bases.

“We really like what Stormy has been doing at the plate. We’ve been moving her around to see what kind of momentum we get, and trying to split up our righties as much as we can with the lefties who are in the game. She’s doing a good job of answering when her number’s called.”


The Knights look to clinch their sixth straight win in their upcoming midweek matchup against the Jacksonville Dolphins Wednesday, April 10, a contest during which the team will also honor and celebrate its second Autism Awareness and Acceptance game. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. from the UCF Softball Complex, and will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.


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