UCF Softball defeats Michigan 3-2 in 11-inning marathon at NCAA Regional – Orlando Sentinel
Maddie Bejarano was about as committed as any player could be to UCF softball on Saturday, helping the Knights win 3-2 over Michigan in a four-hour game that went 11 innings in Game 3 of the NCAA Orlando Regional.
Until his final strike as UCF (48-12) led 2-1 in the bottom of the 7th inning with two outs, the second hit an RBI double to bring Johneisha Rowe home and extend the game into extra innings .
Four innings later, Bejarano doubled down the right field line to score Justene Molina from second base with the winning run.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Bejarano said. “It’s a huge team win for all of us. I’m just glad I could contribute.
While Bejarano delivered late for the Knights, UCF starter Kama Woodall shined in pitching all 11 innings, allowing just 5 hits and 2 runs.
Woodall’s performance was historic. His 10 strikeouts and 11 innings are the most by a UCF pitcher in an NCAA tournament game.
“Kama threw a hell of a game,” UCF coach Cindy Ball-Malone said. “She earned it, she earned it and she looked good. I feel very confident in [fellow pitcher] Gianna [Mancha] and Kama. They are the 1-2 punch.
With this victory, the UCF advances to the regional final on Sunday. The Knights have reached a regional final five times before, including last year in the Tallahassee Regional, but never qualified for a Super Regional.
It’s unclear who the Knights will face in the double-elimination regional final. Michigan will next face the winner of the Villanova-South Dakota State playoff game. The survivor among these three teams will face the UCF in the regional final. Because the Knights have won their first two regional games, they will have two chances to advance to a super regional.
To reach this point, the Knights had to go the distance and then some to beat the Wolverines.
Michigan (37-17) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Annabelle Widra hit an RBI single to left field to score Sierra Kersten.
The Wolverines added a run in the top of the fifth when Winter Garden native Lexie Blair reached first base on a UCF fielding error to allow Ella McVey to score.
Trailing 2-0 early in the sixth inning, Ball-Malone chatted with his team.
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“I thought we came out a little flat,” she said. “We just weren’t ourselves. We are a team full of energy and we were trying to play too cool.
“Finally in the sixth just before we scored, I said, ‘You done being too cool? Let’s be ourselves.’ I didn’t speak to them again after that. A different leader stepped in to speak each inning,” Ball-Malone added.
It was then that rookie Ashleigh Griffin scored an RBI brace to cut the UCF deficit to 2-1. In the seventh, Bejarano tied the score at 2-2.
UCF had several scoring opportunities in the extra innings but left 4 runners on base at ninth and 10, including Rowe’s grounding at third base.
Bejarano ended the game with his second brace of the afternoon.
“She’s one of the toughest out there,” Ball-Malone said. “She works her cock in practice. I felt like we were in a good position to have her there at the time because she leaves no page unturned.