The UCF Knights Softball team achieved perfection as they beat Rollins College 1-0 in 12 innings on Thursday night, finishing the fall season an undefeated 7-0.
The win was monumental for the softball team as they look to continue the winning ways heading into Spring. There’s no question that these girls can and will bring speed and offensive firepower to the Knights’ lineup this spring and will test their opponents’ defense with their big hitters.
“Coming out with a 7-0 record in the fall is just a foreshadowing of many things to come this spring,” Coach Luers-Gillispie said. “We have had a lot of seasons where we haven’t had that outcome so having that motivation and that kind of support just makes us more hungry to work that much harder during our off season. “
It’s not just Luers-Gillispie that sports this winning mentality for the spring season. Potential All-Americans Kayln Cenal, Andrea Neswiacheny and Mariah Garcia brought on the firepower in the past seven games as they led the Knights to their undefeated fall season.
UCF shortstop Kahley Novak realizes the potential that this team has for the upcoming spring season.
“We’re extremely excited about this upcoming season; we know we have a good team and we’re so ready for it to finally begin,” Novak said. “To come in this season and to bring the heat is our goal. We want to show what our progress was in this off season and what this preparation has done for our team.”
“There are three months this off-season to grow as a team and get stronger,” said Head Coach Luers-Gillispie. “We have played good teams this fall which only helps us prepare for spring in two major ways. It gets us prepared to work harder because we know we’ll have better competition to face in the spring and to give the girls the confidence to handle the competition we will see in spring.”
The Knights have been very stingy this season, holding their opponents to very few runs.
“We have a pretty set infield and outfield this year but it’s by no surprise that much of that weight was held to the many accomplishments that our pitchers have done for us,” Novak said. “Pitching without a doubt has been one of our biggest strengths in the infield this season. The girls are constantly striking batters out and getting ground and fly balls in the field, which is what we need. The Pitchers bring on the heat, so we as infielders are back there in case they need us.”
Novak supports her infielders, but it is outfielder Maddy Schroeder who shows off her agility and speed for the Knights defense.
“We’re extremely fast in the outfield; we get our feet up and constantly move across the back of the field. We have speed both on and off the bench so we really hold a full advantage in the ability to holds runs in and stop major defensive plays as well as fueling the fires when it comes to our up to bats,” said Schroeder.
Coming into a new conference this year, both the players and the coaches are looking forward to the new competition.
“Coming in from the Big East, the top two teams we will face this coming season will be Louisville and USF,” Coach Luers-Gillispie said. “Louisville have always been in Regionals every year, bringing in a very solid team and South Florida has always given us a run for our money. Coming in from the Conference USA, Houston is always one of our biggest rivals so those three will definitely be our top competitors.”
The UCF Knights will have a few months before their first competition. There is no question that these Knights are going to work that much harder coming into spring season.
“We thrive to keep winning and we’re ready to play,” Schroeder said.
And it seems this season that the players and coaches are on the same page.
“That’s what we work towards for spring, to have the expectation to keep winning,” Coach Luers-Gillispie said. “Knowing that we have certain runners and certain big hitters, we bring them into certain situations when we need to get in the runs. This game tonight was a really good idea for what we could expect to see at the beginning of our season.”
The Knights hope that they have what it takes to bring a conference championship home to Orlando, and maybe more.
“I think you have to have speed in order to win games,” Coach Gillispie said. “We work a lot on this team on agilities and a strong core. Speed kills in this game so if you have runners that can steel bases, bunt slap to get on base, or big hitters to send it over the fence, you’re going to have a lot of pressure on the defense and fuel the momentum for our at bats ready to put the fire on the ball.”
The UCF opener will be on February 7 for the UCF Knights Invitational Tournament, competing against Kansas, Fordham, and North Florida. With three months to prepare for the upcoming season, the Knights hope they have all the tools to put together a season for the books.