Everything You Need To Know About the 2023 UCF Softball Team

Feb 8, 2023 - 10:04 PM
Noah Goldberg

The UCF Knights Softball team begins its 22nd season this week, as they host a tournament against No. 12 Georgia, Boise State, Ohio State, and Massachusetts.

After a historic 2022 that saw the program reach its first NCAA Super Regional in history, players like Jada Cody and walk-off queen Shannon Doherty are back for the sequel.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Knights for 2023.

Last Season

49-14 (16-2 AAC), Won The American Championship and NCAA Orlando Regional, Lost NCAA Super Regional series to #1 Oklahoma

The Knights are coming off the greatest season in program history, hosting and winning the program’s first-ever regional, and making it to the Super Regionals where they lost to eventual national champion and #1 overall seed Oklahoma.

Their 49 wins was tied for the second-most in program history with the 2008 team, one behind the all-time record of 50 set back in 2015.

This Season

Picked 1st in The American’s preseason coaches poll

The Knights are the favorites to win a 4th regular season title (2014. 2015, 2022) in their final year in the American Athletic Conference. The team will likely also be ranked in the Top 20 in several different national polls.

Who’s in Charge

Cindy Ball-Malone

Cindy Ball-Malone enters her fifth season at UCF with an overall record of 145-59-2. She’s taken the Knights to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2021 and 2022 and was awarded the Extra Innings National Coach of the Year award.

Watch Eric Lopez preview the team with Coach Ball-Malone below:

What to Watch for

Turnover in the Circle

The biggest question going into 2023 is the pitching staff, which loses the 1-2 combo of Gianna Mancha and Kama Woodall, who combined for 41 of the Knights’ 49 wins in 2022.

UCF returns a trio of pitchers, Kaitlyn Felton, Grace Jewell, and Angelina DeVoe. Joining them are freshmen Katelyn Cochran, Macy Miles, and Madison Applebee. The Knights also added two-way player Sarah Willis from Washington via the transfer portal. How Ball-Malone and her staff develop these young arms will determine how far the Knights can go.

Players to Watch

3B/C Jada Cody

Cody led the Knights with 15 home runs and a school-record 75 RBI, breaking Stephanie Best’s program mark of 66 RBI set in 2003. Cody was named a D1 Softball First Team All-American and a Softball America Second Team All-American. She joins Shelby Turnier (2015) as the only two UCF Softball players to get All-American honors.

Cody also became the first Knight to play for the USA Softball National team in the fall of 2022

1B Shannon Doherty

Doherty was second on the team with seven homers and 36 RBI. However, her 2022 season will be remembered in part thanks to her three walk-off hits:

Cody and Doherty are the captains of the team. Since they arrived in 2020, the Knights have won 74% of their games (111-38-2) during this span.

Who’s New That’s Good

OF Chloe Evans and P/OF Sarah Willis

Evans comes to UCF from Minnesota where she hit 11 homers and drove in 46 runs last season, earning All-Big Ten honors.

Willis comes from Washington and will be a two-way player for the Knights. She is a former top 10 national recruit.

Both figure to replace Denali Schappacher in right field.

SS Jasmine Williams

Williams comes to UCF from Oregon, where was a former All-Pac-12 selection. She will be the starter at shortstop, which moves Michaela Macario to her natural position of 2nd base to take over from graduated senior Justene Molina. Williams played for Ball-Malone when she was on the 2019 Under-19 US National Team.

UCF’s Freshman class was ranked as the 25th-best, according to Extra Innings.

Who We’ll Miss

Denali Schappacher

In her final season with the Knights, Schappacher hit the second-highest batting average on the team at .318. This helped her get named to the All-AAC First Team.

Schappacher can still be found on campus though. She now serves as a Staff Athletic Trainer for the Track and Field and Cross Country team.

Roster Breakdown

  • 2 Seniors
  • 9 Juniors
  • 7 Sophomores
  • 7 Freshmen
  • 11 Floridians (1 Central Floridian)
  • 1 International Player (Canada)

Schedule Breakdown

AAC Tournament

Dates: May 11-13, 2023

Location: Tampa, FL

The Knights will open AAC play against Wichita State March 24-26 in a match-up of the last two AAC Champions. UCF will host USF on April 21-23 for one last series of the War on I-4 as conference mates.

Did You Know...

UCF has two players on the roster whose fathers won a college football national title.

Freshman pitcher Macy Miles is the daughter of former LSU Head Football Coach Les Miles, who led the Tigers to the national title in 2007.

Sophomore catcher Carson Frier’s father, Todd, was on the Florida State Seminoles’ 1999 national championship team. Frier’s uncle, Matt Frier, was on Noles’ 1993 national title team.

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