NCAA.COM – As the race to the 2021-2022 Women’s NCAA Division, I College World Series heats up both the Central Florida Knights and the Florida Gators remain in the hunt. Both will keep up their quest to advance as they wait to see who they will play next.
UCF softball took down Michigan, 3-2, in an 11-inning, walk-off thriller Saturday afternoon in NCAA softball regional action. The Knights came back from a 2-1 deficit, down to not only their last out but their last strike to tie up the game and send it to extras.
Down by one in the bottom of the seventh, UCF’s Johneisha Rowe led off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and then to third on a groundout. The Knights were now down to their last out, and went with pinch hitter, Maddie Bejarano. And guess what — Bejarano became an instant hero when she ripped an RBI double to center field to tie up the game.
The Wolverines used their ace, Alex Storako, and then Meghan Beaubian, the starting pitcher, again to close out the game. But the Michigan bats were dormant, and Bejarano wasn’t done yet. In the 11th, she sent another bullet down the right field line, this time bringing in the game-winning run to walk off the game.
Kama Woodall pitched a complete game for the Knights with 10 strikeouts and five hits allowed. She gave up the two runs early, but held the Wolverines scoreless for six innings to allow her offense to pull through and win the game.
UCF made history when the Knights received a top-16 seed to host a regional. There was one small stipulation, though, they would have to face Michigan — a team they lost 6-0 to in the regular season.
The beginning looked like the makings of a pitchers duel. The Wolverines had Beaubien starting in the circle, with Woodall going for the Knights. The Wolverines broke through first after Woodall walked two in the second and Annabelle Widra sent an RBI single into left field to give Michigan a 1-0 lead.
Beaubien kept working her magic in the circle as the Knights’ bats remained silent. She struck out four Knights in the first four innings — and two of those were UCF’s star hitter, Jada Cody. The Wolverines struck again the top of the fifth, this time on an unearned run after an error in the outfield let Ella McVey cross home without a play.
Down 2-0, the Knights finally got something working against Beaubien in the bottom of the sixth. Ashleigh Griffin ripped a double down the left field line to score Shannon Doherty and not only cut the lead in half but chase Beaubien.
Then came the heroism of Bejarano off the bench to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh and walk it off in the 11th.
Meanwhile in Gainesville –
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No.14-seed Florida softball program capped the NCAA Gainesville Regional with a resounding 11-0 victory Sunday afternoon over Wisconsin at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. UF advances to its ninth-straight and 14th overall NCAA Super Regional in program history with the win.
The Gators (47-16) wasted no time in making their case for another NCAA Super Regional berth as the squad struck for 10 runs in the top of the first inning against the Badgers (30-22). The massive amount of runs in the initial frame of action was the most by the program all-time during a single inning in NCAA Regional play.
Freshman Kendra Falby started the rally once again as she reached via a leadoff infield single and fifth-year graduate Hannah Adams followed suit with a single through the right side to put runners on the corners for Florida.
Skylar Wallace drove in Falby in the ensuing at-bat to plate the first run of the game on a RBI single to second base. Senior Charla Echols kept the rally going with a bunt single that loaded the bases for freshman Reagan Walsh. Walsh notched RBI five and six of the weekend with her two-RBI single and senior Cheyenne Lindsey pushed the lead out to 4-0 on her squeeze bunt back to the circle.
The scoring in the first continued as sophomore Katie Kistler drove in Walsh and Lindsey with a double to left center field, which was the game’s first extra-base hit. Florida went back to playing small ball during freshman Sam Roe’s at-bat. The Destin, Fla. native put down a bunt single to score Kistler from third, who stole the bag earlier in the at-bat.
As the lineup turned back over to Falby and the top of the order with a 7-0 lead in hand, the Gators struck for three more runs. Falby and Adams produced back-to-back hits and Wallace scored Roe on a fielder’s choice, while Echols ripped a two-RBI single up the middle.
From there pitchers Lexie Delbrey (15-3) and Natalie Lugo limited the Badgers offense to just three hits and one walk for the run-rule victory. Delbrey, a Bainbridge, Ga. native, hurled four shutout innings, while Lugo pitched a perfect top of the fifth to close out the game.
Florida posted the final run of the game to extend the lead out to 11-0 in the top of the fifth when Wallace scored Falby for the third time on a groundout to shortstop.
The Gators now wait to find out their Super Regional opponent as they will face the winner between No.3-seed Virginia Tech and Kentucky.