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

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 also love the white pants with the muted-gold jerseys the knights wear a lot. Good design. Not too plain, not too flashy. Just right.

© 2017 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Opening Day of the 2017 NCAA Softball Season

Opening Day of the 2017 NCAA Softball Season

The 2017 Softball Season kicked off today all over the country and our home town UCF Knights helped to get this year’s campaign started in fine fashion.

The 2017 UCF Knights Invitational featured four well-respected teams from Florida and beyond. Florida A&M is the other squad from the Sunshine State. The University of Kentucky Wildcats and the Pitt Panthers are the other teams in this four-way tilt.

In today’s action, our Knights bested the FAMU Rattlers in their first contest 10-2 but then fell to Pitt in the 6 PM game by a score of 6-0.

There are four games on tap tomorrow — meaning Saturday — and two more to close out the tournament on Sunday. The Knights will face Kentucky tomorrow at 3:30 and then mix it up with A&M one more time at 6:00. They’ll close out the whole shebang in a rematch with Pitt at 11:30 Sunday morning.

Here’s the site for tourney results and to see the exact times for games. UCF’s excellent softball field is on the back side of Bright House Stadium. The Knights’ facility was pretty darn good before this season but the addition of chairs with backs over the old bleachers has kicked it up a notch or three. Loved the changes. The $1 hot dogs for opening day were a big hit, too. Judging from the number of fans I saw juggling hot dogs as they headed back to their new-and-improved seats, it wasn’t just me taking advantage of this awesome “dollar dog” promotion!

I had one complaint about opening day but I’m saving that rant for the next post! I love softball and love the Knights so I’ll let this bright, happy post about opening day live on the internet completely unspoiled by the irritation-filled screed coming next!

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile