ORLANDO – UCF Softball is less than two weeks away from kicking off its 19th season as a program under second-year head coach Cindy Ball-Malone. As the Knights conduct their final pre-season practices, eight juniors are on the roster ready to go as they are looking to make a splash in The American.
With four newcomers and four returners suiting up in The Black and Gold, each player brings a unique skill set that will benefit UCF in 2020 and beyond. Among the group are three outfielders, four infielders, and a pitcher.
Let’s take a deeper dive into each junior on the Knights’ roster this season, but first, if you would like to read the freshmen or sophomore player previews, you can do so here:
– Freshmen Preview
– Sophomore Preview
Now, let’s break down the junior class:
#2 // Hayley Bejarano // OF
Hayley Bejarano enters her third season with The Black and Gold with a new familiar face on the team this season in her cousin Madelyn Bejarano, one of the seven incoming freshmen this year. Bejarano saw action in 27 games last season, starting 11 of them. In 40 at-bats, she recorded eight hits, including one double. The versatile Bejararno split time between the outfield and first base last season and is expected to be in a similar role again this season. Bejarano brings a mix of on-field athleticism and character to the team that is sure to help lead the Knights to a strong finish in 2020.
#5 // Denali Schappacher // OF
One of the best pure hitters on the Knights offense over the past several seasons, Schappacher has hit at least .320 in every year of her collegiate career. Her freshman season was one for the books as the lefty slashed .340/.394/.415 from the leadoff spot to be named to the American Athletic Conference first team and All-Rookie team. The outfielder has 25 multi-hit games in her time with UCF. Expect 2020 to be no different. With a combination of speed and pure hitting ability, Schappacher is primed to be at the top of the Knights lineup again in 2020.
#6 // Takiya London // SS
A sure thing up the middle, London came to the Knights in 2019 after spending her freshman year at the nearby College of Central Florida, where she posted a .406 batting average and a .802 slugging percentage. Last season, London split time at shortstop with Aubrey Johnson, starting 25 games at the position while also getting some time in at second and third base. In 83 at-bats, London compiled 21 hits, including two home runs and seven doubles. Expect the power to be there again for London this season as she looks to secure a spot up the middle and help lead the Knights to another strong season.
#8 // Gianna Mancha // P
One of 12 new faces to the Knights this season, Gianna Mancha comes from Boise State to provide some depth to the UCF roster in 2020 and beyond. In 2019, Mancha tossed 114.1 innings for the Broncos, going 12-8 and posting a 3.18 ERA. She struck out 67 batters and added a save. She brings a career 2.83 ERA to UCF, where she will face some friendly competition in the form of Alea White and Breanna Vasquez.
#12 // Justene Molina // IF
Another new addition to UCF in 2020, Molina also comes to the Black and Gold after having spent her first two seasons at Boise State. In two seasons with the Broncos, Molina slashed .241/.320/.339 with two home runs. An infielder by trade, Molina brings a solid defensive asset to the Knights. In her career, she has posted a .954 fielding percentage, 95 assists, and 111 putouts. Molina also brings a speed aspect to UCF as she swiped nine out of 10 bags for the Broncos in 2018. Expect Molina to be a solid piece for the Knights that they can plug in around the infield and feel good about.