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For the second season in a row, the UCF softball team made it to the NCAA Regional championship matchup and, for the second year in a row, it closed the season as the runner-up.

The Knights finished the season 43-18 last year, which was third-best at the time, after dropping the finale to No. 6 Florida, 7-0.

The Knights' historic 2015 run was capped by a program best 50-9 record, but the team ultimately dropped the championship contest to No. 9 Florida State, 5-0, in the first regional the team had played outside of Gainesville.

"It was a hard-fought weekend … our girls did a great job of fighting through," head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "If you look two years ago we were barely over five-hundred."

The Knights were an astounding 27-4 at home and 16-2 in conference play. The four seniors who will be trading in their black and gold jerseys for another career are a large part of the team's success.

Senior Kahley Novak may not be straying too far away from the softball diamond, though, as she was the 16th overall draft pick in the 2015 National Pro Fastpitch Draft. She was selected back in March by the Dallas Charge. The NPF season begins May 29.

"It's just a bittersweet feeling. It's just hard to think that it's over," Novak said. "Every single year that I've been here I've had just the best year. I'm glad I set the records that I wanted to and leave a legacy, which I hope I did."

The remaining three seniors are not overshadowed by Novak's success. Pitcher Mackenzie Audas went 24-1 during her senior season and set records in career strikeouts, games started, appearances and no-hitters.

Maddy Schroeder and Farrah Sullivan were tied for third on the team with a .425 slugging percentage and each finished the season with at least a .311 batting average.

"To see these seniors break in and set up a legacy for us now, it gives us a chance to really take that next step and that's what we're working towards," Luers-Gillispie said.

Eleven juniors along with sophomores Linnea Goodman and Willow Kalinen will lead the Knights, and bring veteran experience during the 2016 campaign.

Goodman started all 59 games and led the team in at bats and a .356 batting average. Kalinen saw the field in 52 contests and .253 batting average and a .982 fielding percentage, committing just one error.

Even though the Knights' season has come to an end, they will soak in the best season in program history for a little while.

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Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JHeil11 or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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