For the first time since 2008, the Knights completed a three-game sweep against Tulsa, beating the Golden Hurricane squad 3-1 Sunday afternoon.
“The sweep was huge for us,” senior pitcher Jamie Ujvari said. “They are a great program, they come out playing hard against teams and we knew that it was going to be a battle.”
Senior Mackenzie Huhn got the start on the mound for the Knights but was taken out after the first inning, allowing Tulsa’s only run.
“This is Mackenzie’s senior day and we wanted her to have the opener,” Renee Luers-Gillispie said. “She did a nice job out there keeping them off balance. We knew right away once we got through kind of the meat of the line-up, we know we were going to be making a change.”
Luers-Gillispie substituted in junior pitcher Manami Calixto who brought the heat, allowing only three hits with a 2.18 era.
Junior left fielder Willow Kalinen gave the Knights a spark on defense and offense. She went two for two at the plate, scoring a run and on defense, making a spectacular diving catch to end the second inning.
“In the outfield, there’s no one that runs balls better than she does,” Luers-Gillispie said. “She goes all out with everything she has. When Willow goes out there, you know she’s going to layout for everything she can get. Just a fantastic catch to close out the inning for us.”
The Knights also got a boost from sophomore third baseman Courtney Rotton who also went two for two at the plate. She scored two runs and hit a homerun, the first of the season for her.
“I’m usually not a home-run hitter,” Rotton said. “So for me to be able to get a homerun and have one under my belt is kind of cool.”
Ujvari closed out the game for the Knights, recording her fifth save of the season, which is UCF’s single season record for saves in a season.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth with two outs for Tulsa, Ujvari managed to get a pop-out to retire the Golden Hurricane offense.
“One of the top hitters coming out, we knew that Jamie did a good job against her yesterday,” Luers-Gillispie said. “I wanted her to get another chance to come in and kind of close that inning out.”
The Knights are looking to find a third starter in their pitching rotation and Calixto made her case today with her solid pitching.
“We’re trying to get Ma (Calixto) into the picture, seeing a little bit more, getting a few more innings out of her to help us out with post-season and she did that today,” Luers-Gillispie said.
The Knights will travel to Texas as they take on the Houston Cougars this weekend for a three-game series.
Jean Racine is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.