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

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

Costal Carolina takes the 2016 College World Series

Mr. Bulldog here is a serious sports fan, though I haven’t had a lot to say about sports on da bulldog blog up to this point. I follow football, baseball and softball quite closely. Mostly because I’ve played and–at times–coached those sports and they’re the most fun to watch. In my view, anyway. I follow college sports closely and the pros as well. Like many others who have an opinion on the subject, I do feel that sports on the college level represent sport in a more pure state. However, it’s also true that the pros are better. They truly do sit at the top of the proverbial food chain. Spoiled brats though they be…

Now to my main topic, I did see most of this year’s College World Series of Baseball and loved every moment of it. Was pulling for the Oklahoma State Cowboys this time around, and they got pretty deep before being eliminated by Arizona.

Coastal Carolina took all the marbles in a thrilling three game series after they and Arizona sent the other very good teams packing. I tuned in when the Regionals began, saw most of the Super-Regional games and missed very little of the series itself. The vexing thing is that I couldn’t see the third and decisive game, as the folks in charge changed to a 1 PM  start time because of weather issues in Omaha. Although most of the guys in my office are serious sports fans, watching a ball game on Company time  wouldn’t fly!

So, Coastal took that third game by a score of 4-3 and it was a barn-burner! Chanticleer slugger G.K. Young went deep–make that really deep–in the sixth inning, Coastal’s pitching and defense were solid and the result was C.C.U. winning it all in their first trip to Omaha. Carolina coach Gary Gilmore is practically a legend among NCAA baseball fans, though few who aren’t into the sport have a clue who he is. His star shines more brightly now, to say the least.

Great video wrap-up here of that third, decisive game from the official site for the 2016 College World Series; it’s well worth a look.

This was a great feel-good story for sports fans this year, especially ones from South Carolina, Coastal supporters/Alums in particular. This MLB season has had some great moments, and looks very promising as we get a little closer to the post season. But it was one hell of a year for hardball at the college level.

In closing, let me say that I thought that ESPN’s coverage was very, very good. Those guys are the  pros and no other sports net can touch ’em.

Simultaneously smacking his glove and searching for the remote, Bulldog says: “Put me in, coach!”