#29 UCF Softball 2015 Preview

UCF Knights

Overall Rank: #29
Conference Rank: #2 American
#29 UCF Softball 2015 Preview
UCF Team Page


UCF returns 19 players from last year’s American Athletic Conference Championship squad that ended up as the runner-up in the Gainesville Regional in 2014. With a loaded pitching staff that can take over a game at any time, the Knights are going to be very primed for a run in the NCAA Tournament that could take them to the Super Regionals and beyond if everything comes together this season.

2014: 43-18, 15-3
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Renee Luers-Gillispie

Field Players:
Reigning American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Farrah Sullivan and Infielder Kahley Novak anchor a very balanced offensive attack. Sullivan hit .324 with five homeruns and drove in 34 last season. Novak is an excellent contact hitter with great plate discipline, as she only struck out 18 times in 182 at bats last season along with leading the team in hitting with a .357 batting average. In addition, Novak does an outstanding job utilizing her speed. She stole 32 bases in 38 attempts last season. Infielder/designated player Samantha McCloskey will provide some additional power for UCF as she hit seven homeruns last season. If she can increase those numbers, it will take the pressure off of the Knights pitching staff.
This was one of the top pitching staffs in the country and returns intact for the 2015 season. Teams only scored 116 runs during the 2014 season and will without question keep UCF in every game. Shelby Turnier was the most dominant last year. She was 19-5, with a 1.32 earned run average and did an excellent job of limiting walks, tallying only 58, while striking out 198 in 148 innings. Mackenzie Audas was also very dominant in 2014. She was 18-11 with a 1.63 earned run average and struck out 201 batters in 188.2 innings.  

Who to Watch:
If catcher Jessica Ujvari can build off of her second team all-American Athletic Conference season of a year ago when she hit six homeruns, it will be a huge asset to a UCF offense that will be looking to be more explosive in 2015. In the circle, Jamie Ujvari will be one to watch as she was very effective in her spot starts last season as she was 3-0 with a 2.08 earned run average. Ujvari was also very effective with her control. She only walked eight batters in 37 innings of work. That type of pinpoint control takes pressure off of the Knights defense and keeps the pressure on opposing teams to cash in on their limited scoring opportunities.

Final Projection:
The schedule is tailored nicely for a veteran experienced team like UCF with 33 home games and several non-conference games that could potentially bolster their NCAA Tournament resume. Matchups with Arkansas and Missouri highlight the NTC Spring Games Tournament. The longest road trip of the season will be the following weekend when the Knights travel to Honolulu for the Bank of Hawaii Tournament where they will take on Washington and Hawaii. There also will be a rematch with defending national champion Florida on February 25th that UCF should be very motivated for. The conference schedule has a good balance with Houston and USF visiting Orlando during the season on April 11-12, and May 2-3, respectively. Bottom line, if the Knights can be a little more explosive offensively this season, they should without question be in the mix for a solid NCAA Tournament draw and could very well at minimum get to the Super Regional round with their elite level of pitching.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Kahley Novak, IF, 186
Hits: Kahley Novak, IF, 65
Home Runs: Samantha McCloskey, IF/DP, 7
RBIs: Farrah Sullivan, IF, 34
Runs: Kahley Novak, IF, 43
Stolen Bases: Kahley Novak, IF, 32

Wins: Shelby Turnier, P, 19
Innings Pitched: Mackenzie Audas, P, 188.2
Strikeouts: Mackenzie Audas, P, 201
Complete Games: Mackenzie Audas, P, 18


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