ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of Central Florida has started its season on a losing foot. After falling to the University of Pittsburgh 6-0 on Friday night, the Knights (1-2) fell to the University of Kentucky (2-2) 6-3 at the UCF Softball Complex on Saturday afternoon.
Freshman pitcher Alea White (0-2) pitched her first complete game of her career and got the loss.
“She did an amazing job today,” first baseman Cassady Brewer said after the game. “Of course, there are gonna be pitches that are missed, but that’s with every single pitcher. I think she did an incredible job. It’s a lot to ask a freshman to go out and pitch against the [No. 20 team] in the nation… She wasn’t scared. She went right up, head-to-head with them.”
Kentucky broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the fourth inning with three runs. After the Wildcats’ Breanne Ray and Rachael Metzger got on base with singles, pinch hitter Kierston Moore smashed a three-run bomb over the center-field wall to take a 4-1 lead.
Designated player Courtney Rotton would narrow the deficient with her first and the Knights’ first home run of the season to make the score 5-2.
UCF almost completed its comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning. Three straight walks set up senior shortstop Brittany Solis’ sacrifice fly to left field that brought in Kyra Klarkowski. Brewer then grounded out to first base. A wild pitch almost allowed Little to score the Knights’ fourth run, but Metzger recovered in time for the unassisted out at home plate.
“That’s what I love about this team. I mean, we had the winning run at the plate,” associate head coach Corrie Hill said after the game. “They just kept fighting, and the walks were incredible at that point because a lot of times you’re in that situation, you need base-runners, people wanna press. And I was very impressed with our composure that they didn’t press. And that was huge. That to me says that’s light years of where they’ve grown mentally and not trying to do too much at the plate.”
Senior center fielder Willow Kalinen notched the Knights’ first hit of the game with a knock right past second base. Down 1-0, Kalinen’s smart base-running gave the Knights their first run of the game too. On the putout throw from third base, Kalinen snuck her way to the corner plate. Then she sprinted home while Kentucky starting pitcher Meagan Prince was gathering herself in the circle.
“We call it the Sandlot,” Hill said. “We’ve been practicing, even through the fall, trying to get all the players…whatever it is—to play outside of their box. And we call it playing it in the Sandlot. And that’s taking some extra chances that sometimes don’t happen. But when you see that home plate’s wide open, you go.”
The Knights had a chance to get on the board first with a bases-loaded situation with only one out away. Linnea Goodman was first hit by a pitch and advanced to second on Brittany Solis‘ sacrifice slap. Brewer was walked, and Courtney Rotton was also hit by a pitch to load the bases. A swinging strikeout by Autumn Gillespie and a groundout to the shortstop by Tamesha Glover ended the first-inning threat.
Player of the Game: Kierston Moore
Moore opened the game up with a three-run bomb to take the Wildcats’ second lead of the game. She hit 2-for-2 with a home run and three RBIs.
The Knights play the Florida A&M University Rattlers at 6 p.m. They will then finish the UCF Invitational with an 11:30 a.m. matchup against the Pittsburgh Panthers on Sunday.
“There’s a lot of, shall we say, studying going on about Pitt right now,” Hill said. “And going back and watching some video and making sure we’re ready to attack some different weaknesses that we see on their part and add in some strengths that we see on our part and be able to go after them and beat them.
“The team in that locker room wants this game tomorrow.”
— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) February 11, 2017
— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) February 11, 2017
- Rotton hit her first home run of the season against the Wildcats. It was also the Knights’ first home run of the season.
- White pitched her first complete game in Saturday’s loss. She
|T2||University of Kentucky||Kelsee Henson flew out to left field, sacrifice fly, RBI; Abbey Cheek scored||1-0, UK|
|B1||University of Central Florida||Kyra Klarkowski out at first (5-3), bunt, RBI; Willow Kalinen scored||1-1, T|
|T4||University of Kentucky||Kierston Moore home run to center field, 3 RBIs; Rachael Metzger, scored; Breanne Ray scored||4-1, UK|
|T6||University of Kentucky||Alex Martens doubled to left-center field; Sarah Rainwater scored||5-1, UK|
|B6||University of Central Florida||Courtney Rotton home run to left field, RBI||5-2, UK|
|T7||University of Kentucky||Kelsee Henson flew out to left-center field, sacrifice fly, RBI; Breanne Ray advanced to third, Abbey Cheek scored||6-2, UK|
|B7||University of Central Florida||Brittany Solis flew out to left field, sacrifice fly, RBI; Kyra Klarkowski scored||6-3, UK|
Statistics and Starting Lineups
|Meagan Prince||University of Kentucky||7.0||3||3||4||3||7|
|Alea White||University of Central Florida||7.0||6||6||11||3||4|
|Kierston Moore||University of Kentucky||2||2||1||1||3||0||0|
|Alex Martens||University of Kentucky||3||2||0||0||1||1||0|
|Courtney Rotton||University of Central Florida||2||1||1||1||1||0||0|
UCF starting lineup: 1. Linnea Goodman (7) 2. Brittany Solis (6) 3. Cassady Brewer (3) 4. Courtney Rotton (DP) 5. Autumn Gillespie (2) 6. Tamesha Glover (5) 7. Willow Kalinen (8) 8. Kyra Klarkowski (9) 9. Aubrey Johnson (4)
UCF starting pitcher: Alea White
Kentucky starting lineup: 1. Katie Reed (6) 2. Alex Martens (4) 3. Jenny Schaper (3) 4. Abbey Cheek (5) 5. Breanne Ray (7) 6. Rachael Metzger (2) 7. Kelsee Henson (D) 8. Sarah Rainwater (8) 9. Bailey Vick (9)
Kentucky starting pitcher: Meagan Prince
- Quotes: Added quotes from associate head coach Corrie Hill and first baseman Cassady Brewer