Knights Knocked Out of AAC Softball Championship Tourney by Lowly East Carolina

Knights Knocked Out of AAC Softball Championship Tourney by Lowly East Carolina

Last Thursday the softball squad from East Carolina eliminated our UCF Knights on day one of the conference championship tourney. I love and support the Knights but that was a huge disappointment for me. UCF was the no. 3 seed; E.C. was in the AAC cellar before the tournament. Perhaps being the host team helped the Pirates kick it up a notch or two.

The Knights finished with a 29-23 record for the 2017 campaign; it was not a bad season considering how young the squad is and that one has to consider it to have been a rebuilding year.

Yes, die-hard fans like me can look forward to the next few years now that the team has more maturity. There certainly is no lack of talent. And coach Rene Luers-Gillispie and her staff are very good at what they do. But the quick exits from the American Athletic Conference the last two years have dampened this dog’s enthusiasm just a bit.

Damn, what a whiner I am! #ChargeOn, Knights fans!

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

UCF Softballers Bash UConn in Home Finale

UCF Softballers Bash UConn in Home Finale

What you’re seeing in the featured photo is a softball about a millisecond before Knights catcher Cassady Brewer crushes it into the stands in right-center field. I caught that first inning shot, it was the first of the two round-trippers she smacked on Sunday afternoon.

The second was a walk off grand slam, which triggered an immediate 9-0 run rule victory for the Knights in the sixth. UConn bested them on Friday night with two grand slams of their own; UCF’s intrepid softball squad took game two on Saturday and yesterday’s convincing win gave them that badly-needed 2-1 series edge.

I did not catch Cassady’s coup de grâce on film. I had put my camera away by then. I just wanted the luxury of watching the game without being in my usual “don’t miss this next shot” mode, and so I stashed my pride and joy in the car. That’ll teach me! Of course, merely seeing it with my eyes is still one of the best moments of the 2017 season! (If you’d like to read my posting about an earlier round-tripper from Brewer, one that bested Baylor, catch the one dated March 20 of this year.)

This was the last home game for the Knights. Sad to see the season wrapping up. There are four more regular season games, a single tilt with BCC in Daytona on Wednesday. And then a three game series in Tulsa with the Golden Hurricane. And when the AAC Tournament kicks off, Tulsa may well be the team to beat; but you can bet that the Knights will show up in Greenville ready to play.

UCF had/is having a decent season — their record after Sunday stands at 25-21, falling far short of last year’s campaign. The 2016 squad made it to the regional play-offs last May where they beat FAU twice but were eliminated by the Gators. I traveled up to G’ville for that tourney and enjoyed it immensely in spite of the Knights not advancing.

As this season winds down, let me contrast the current season with last year’s to shed a bit more light on recent UCF softball history. The 2016 incarnation of the Knights was really good, finishing 38-22 and delighting UCF fans all over Central Florida. The only down side: the team graduated eight seniors including ace pitcher Shelby Turnier, catcher and power hitter Samantha McCloskey and slugger Jamie Ujvary. Shelby — as you may know if you follow the sport — had a stellar first season at the pro level with the Chicago Bandits of National Pro Fastpitch.

It was apparent to most fans that the Knights would have a hard time topping last year’s season and so their 25-21 record at this point with four regular season games left is not a bad 2017 campaign. As far as how UCF’s softballers may fare in the future, there are no fewer than nine freshmen on the squad, including a gaggle of pitchers who show a lot of promise, so I’m looking for great things from UCF moving forward. And in the meantime, the results of Sunday’s outing will send the squad into their last series and the AAC tourney ready to show their stuff.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Noles Beat Knights 4-0 in Wednesday Softball Action

Noles Beat Knights 4-0 in Wednesday Softball Action

I do follow softball and this was a contest not-to-be-missed. The home town Knights of UCF were hosting the no. 1 ranked team in the country in the Seminoles of Florida State. It was a good contest but in the end, Seminole bats overpowered UCF’s pitching and Seminole fans drove back to Tallahassee with smiles on their (often) painted faces.

UCF pitcher Alea White had bested the nation’s 15th ranked team five days earlier — that would be the Bears of Baylor — but FSU is no. 1 for a reason. Or reasons, I should say, and Alea White pitched well enough to beat some Div I teams, but the Noles can hit the ball like very few other squads and their eight hits translated into four runs. This time out, the Knights had no answer.

Cassidy Brewer, the hero of that third contest with Baylor had two hits, but the rest of the line-up together produced only two more. And against the Noles, that’s not enough.

In the top of the 7th, the DH for FSU, Zoe Casas, spanked a homer to right field, just inside the foul line that carried way, way over the 200′ mark. FSU head coach  Lonni Alameda does a splendid job as the skipper for Florida State and coaches for the USSSA Pride in the Pro ranks, too. If you polled folks who know their softball about who’s the best coach in the game, I’d be a little shocked if Lonni would not come out on top. And I’d bet a month’s rent that hitting is her no. 1 criterion when she and her staff are recruiting.

UCF is back in action on the diamond tomorrow, March 24th when they host the Houston Cougars. It is a conference game. The first pitch will be thrown at 5:30PM.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

UCF knocks off Illinois, advances to NIT Final Four – Orlando Sentinel

I was on the UCF campus yesterday evening to see our Knights take on the Seminoles in softball. No. 1 ranked FSU bested the Knights by a score of 4-0. It was a good contest and I don’t think the UCF softball stadium could have held one more fan.

While that contest was going on, we all could see the crazy traffic on campus, knowing that the crowds were turning out for the Men’s BB game that was going to tip-off at 7:00. I was delighted to hear the Knights won and are now headed to the final four in the NIT. Hope they leave their mark on Madison Square Garden! Charge On!

Great write-up all about their big win here from the Orlando Sentinel:

UCF held off a late Illinois rally at CFE Arena Wednesday night, advancing to the NIT Final Four.

Source: UCF knocks off Illinois, advances to NIT Final Four – Orlando Sentinel

Cassady Brewer’s Blast Helps to Power UCF past the Bears in Sunday Softball Action

Cassady Brewer’s Blast Helps to Power UCF past the Bears in Sunday Softball Action

Our UCF Knights knew that the Baylor Bears were going to be a handful. They were sporting a 22-4 record as their bus motored down I-75 toward Orlando last week. They were ranked 15th nationally and had bested some very good softball squads in the first half of the 2017 season.

The Bears pretty well mauled the Knights in game one on Friday night. Game two Saturday was closer and at some point the home team knew that beating Baylor was, indeed, possible.

The contest Sunday was a whole different thing; the Knights played pretty darn good defense, Freshman hurler Alia White gave up just two runs to the Bears and first baseman Cassady Brewer went 2 for 3 from the plate including a solo homer in the 4th. It was White’s first-ever win against a top 20 team in her short collegiate career.

I snapped a pic of Brewer’s blast just after the ball leapt off the bat. I just had to use that pic as the featured foto this time around. Brewer is a bona fide local product, coming out of Apopka High.

Baylor was a very good team. On Wednesday the Knights will face a great team when FSU comes to town. The Noles are ranked nationally at no. 2 at the moment; this one is going to be intense!

Tickets are still on sale but won’t last long. For tickets to any UCF sporting event, call 407 823-1000. Operators are standing by…

A big fan of UCF Athletics, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

They’re Back in Black!

They’re Back in Black!

If you read Bulldog’s rant about the white unis worn by the Knights on opening day, you might be thinking to yourself: “what’s wrong with a White Knight?”

He just didn’t like the blinding whiteness of it all and the fact that it made the numbers on the players’ backs almost impossible to read. Yes, he went too far. Ranted too long.

But today, all is right in the world again. The Knights are Back in Black! Yay!

 

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Full Foto Disclosure: This amazing photograph Ben took of the Knights in their awesome black-on-black togs is from the 2016 season. But that’s what they wore Saturday night in the rematch with FAMU which they won 1-0. Ben can get on with his life again!

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

The photo at the bottom is an official UCF photo. It shows UCF Ace Hurler Shelby Turnier wearing the best Knights’ uni ever in a game with the Gators from last year’s season. As you may know, Shelby is now pitching in the NPF with the Chicago Bandits. The Pros kick off their season in early June shortly after the College Softball World Series wraps up.

2016 UCFSB vs. UF
2016 UCFSB vs. UF

Photo of Shelby Turnier UCF Athletics used with permission

 

 

Loved the First Day of the 2017 Softball Season, But Those New…

Loved the First Day of the 2017 Softball Season, But Those New…

In my previous post I talked about how today was the opening day for collegiate softball all over the nation and how the tournament sponsored by our hometown UCF Knights got it started here in the Central Florida area. I loved at least a thousand things about the start of this year’s season and about our team and the top-shelf tournament they’re hosting.

This ardent UCF fan’s one complaint about opening day was the new uni’s. The “white on white wear” that debuted today was awful. Just awful. The very plain jerseys just look like tee shirts and make one think of a sand lot game where players are actually wearing — their tee shirts. And the blinding whiteness of all white makes it almost impossible to see the players’ numbers. Not good. All sports, pro and collegiate have been sold a bill of goods — literally — and change their look and their unis every season now. Designers and uniform makers’ sales reps love it. Fans not so much.

Now I know that all teams have several sets of unis and I’ll probably see those awesome black on black togs for which the Knights have been well-known for years again this year. But the white on white is awful. My two bits of advice would be scrap those new, boring outfits as fast as you can and next year give the contract to some other sportswear maker.

A team’s look is not a trivial matter. Uniforms, specifically, are a big deal to fans. It’s one of those things in the sports world where a little tradition goes a long way. Folks, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

 

Strong supporter of UCF Athletics, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

P.S.: Let the record show that I love the white pants with the muted-gold jerseys the knights wear a lot. Good design. Not too plain, not too flashy. Just right.

P.S. to the P.S.: I’m looking back over the hundreds of photos I took last season to make sure that these accursed white on white on white togs haven’t been a thing before now. If they’re not new, I’ll delete this post and take out a full page ad in the UCF newspaper to give my heart-felt apology the widest possible audience.

<Here the author titters, giggles and guffaws, knowing full-well that none of the 13 souls who have ever read his blog know that the campus paper, The Central Florida Future, folded in 2016 after a 48 year run>

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile