The Oklahoma Sooners dominant win over the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday was the 2nd most watched College Softball regular season game of the season. The Sooners-Vols game that was on ESPN garnered 311,000 viewers according to SportsTVRatings.com. It is second only to Kentucky at LSU game on April 9th which had 392,000 viewers. That game was also on ESPN. Oklahoma-Tennessee more then doubled the audience of College Baseball’s Georgia-Florida game which aired at same time on ESPN2 and garnered only 144,000 viewers.
Finishing a distant second and third this weekend in viewership was the the rivalry between UCLA-Arizona. Saturday’s telecast on ESPN2 between the two Pac 12 powers in College Softball drew 182,000 viewers while Sunday’s telecast garnered 166,000 viewers.
Texas AM-Missouri game on ESPNU’s Saturday telecast was the other College Softball game to garner more then 100,000 viewers as it had 112,000 viewers beating Georgia-Auburn which garnered 75,000 on ESPNU earlier in the day. The ACC’s telecast of Notre Dame at North Carolina on Sunday had 70,000 viewers on ESPNU and 88,000 viewers on the Monday night telecast on ESPNU.
Also In case you missed On In the Circle Podcast episode 19, Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson broke down how the postseason looks in Division 2. Who will make the NCAA Tournament out of the South Region and broke down the contenders.
For the first time this season. An SEC Game was not the most watched Softball game of the weekend. The Texas-Oklahoma game on Saturday on ESPN2 was the most watched College Softball game of the weekend garnering 219,000 viewers according to SportsTVRatings.com.
The Longhorns-Sooners edge out the Tennessee-Georgia game that aired right before the Texas-Oklahoma game on ESPN2 garnered 207,000 viewers. Missouri at Kentucky on Sunday on ESPNU garnered 163,000 viewers on ESPNU tieing it with Georgia-Missouri the week pror for the most watched College Softball game on ESPNU this season.
Oklahoma and Tennessee will be showcased this Saturday on ESPN at 2pm.
Another chapter in the rivalry between UCF and Houston will be writtenin Houston this weekend 10 years after it wrote the first chapter. Houston and UCF have met 31 times including three times in conference tournaments including 1 classic championship game in Houston 8 years ago. UCF and Houston have met with Conference Championships implications or post season implications. Houston-UCF have provided many memorable games since the rivalry began 10 years ago with the first ever meeting. Over the 10 years, Both UCF and Houston have had memorable games with memorable players from both programs which included one of greatest individual rivalries in College Softball history.
“Playing against UCF was always going to be a good series.” said Shamblin who knew Kime as both had the same personal pitching coach in Kaci Clark. “Against Kime You always had to bring your best game and compete hard pitch for pitch… Kime was a competitor, she never backed down…”
May 10, 2007 : First Postseason Meeting: UCF hosted 2007 CUSA Tournament. A double-elimination format at the time. UCF won earlier in the day over Marshall setting up a showdown with regular season champion Houston. With Kime having started the Marshall game earlier in the day, It meant that then Freshman pitcher Ashleigh Cole would get the ball against the CUSA 2-time pitcher of the year winner Angel Shamblin. The Cougars would edge out the Knights 2-1 on an RBI single by Haley Valis in the 6th inning for the win.Shamblin would break Houston all-time record for strikeouts in a career. Houston would go on to win CUSA Championship over East Carolina as Shamblin went 3-0 in the tournament to win Tournament MVP.
“Winning the CUSA championship at UCF was a memorable one for me, not only was it the first in school history but it was in my home state (Davie, Florida) “. Shamblin said.
“Shamblin was always tough and anytime I was facing her I had to bring my A game if we had even a chance at winning” said Kime of her rival Shamblin who both batted as well as pitched against each other throughout both careers.
“Playing Houston was always tough that year and when we beat them in 2008 it was a huge accomplishment for us”. said Kime who beat Houston twice in 2008 season including the championship game in Houston. “We got swept by them I think most series’s and being that we were in the championship game I wanted nothing more than to win! It was my first time ever winning a tournament that big and it would be the second in program history!”
“They were two kids who brought the intangible part of this sport more than most.” Said Kaci Clark-Zerbie on Kime and Shamblin. “They both defined the term “gamer” and were spectacular at finding ways to win. They could both beat you with whatever they had going for them on any given day, even when it wasn’t all of their good stuff. Those two brought the game in their bags every time they showed up to play!”
Although the Kime-Shamblin rivalry was complete. The individual rivalry set the tone for future games between the schools and would have an impact on the rivalry for years to come especially with one future key player of the rivalry. “Kaci definently mention both of them to me!” said Mackenzie Audas (2012-2015 at UCF) who like Kime and Shamblin had Kaci Clark as a personal pitching coach. ” She loved them as players and people and was proud of their accomplishments. I remember after telling Kaci I wanted to go to UCF, she said I reminded her of Allison.”
March 21, 2010 : Barrow Walk Off Homer: Both UCF and Houston had to transition from not having best players in program history (Shamblin,Kime) in 2009. Both programs bounced back and pick up the rivalry in 2010 where it left off in 2008. Then senior Hillary Barrow hit one of more memorable regular season home runs in program history with a walk off solo home run to LF in the bottom of the 9th inning with mist rain drops to complete a UCF sweep over Houston the series with a 1-0 win in the finale.Ashleigh Cole outdueled Amanda Crabtree in great pitcher duel in the mist rain. It was the first UCF not only won a series from Houston but also sweeping them. UCF would end up finishing 2nd in CUSA and got to CUSA Championship game in Houston where they would lose to East Carolina. The Knights would get into the NCAA Tournament for the first time as an at-large team.
Check out highlights below of the series sweep including Barrow Homerun starting at the 5 minute and 3 second mark. Also hear from Coach Renee Luers Gillispie at the 12 minute and 38 second mark.
April 29, 2012 : UCF Sweeps Houston on Senior Weekend: UCF swept Houston in big series that help UCF get in to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large. Highlights of series include Natalie Land on the first pitch that she saw in Game 1 in the bottom drilled it over the fence in LF to set the tone. “It was always exciting and nerve wrecking playing Houston because of the school rivalry and because they were important conference games.” Audas said on playing Houston. “Houston was one of the teams we all look forward to playing each year.”
Audas a Freshman at the time made her debut in the rivalry by picking up her 20th win of the season to set the tone in Game 1 of the series . UCF would go on to 6-3 win on Senior day to complete the 3 game sweep. UCF would go 27-4 at home and this mark the last home game of the great career of Natalie Land and Vanessa Perez who were part of two UCF NCAA Tournament teams (2010,2012).
April 28, 2014 : Farrah Sullivan Lifts UCF to Sweep of Houston : New Conference, same old high stakes.Going into weekend, Houston and UCF were 1-2 in the American Conference standings with just two weeks left in conference season It was the first year for UCF and Houston in the American Conference.Going into the weekend Houston’s Haley Outon was believed to be in the lead for Conference player of the year. That would not be the case following the weekend. History would be made as Farrah Sullivan put on one of greatest weekends any Knight ever had as Sullivan just owned Houston pitching the entire weekend. Sullivan set a school record for most hits in a 3 game conference series including 3 more hits in Sunday finale leading UCF on a comeback from a 4-1 deficit in the Bottom of 4th to a 7-5 victory to complete the sweep. UCF would go on to win 1st regular season conference championship in program history the following week at UConn. But it was the Houston series that really won the conference for UCF and Sullivan was one of main reasons for it. For the series, Sullivan went 9 for 11 with 5 RBIs and 4 doubles in the series which would help propel Sullivan to winning American Conference Player of the Year over Outon. Sullivan became the 2nd Knight to win Conference Player of the Year Award joining Stephanie Best who won A-Sun Player of the Year three times (2003-2005).
April 11, 2015 : Mackenzie Audas Breaks Allison Kime Wins and No-Hitters Record
Once again going into weekend UCF and Houston were at top of the American Conference with UCF coming in ranked 17th in nation with 37-6 overall record.
” It was a great feeling and honor breaking those two records and even sweeter because it was against a big rival. ” said Audas. ” Kime was such a great ball player and left a legacy I looked up to. So to be able to break those records and leave my own legacy is an indescribable feeling and accomplishment.”
The Knights would go on to sweep Houston and would go on to win regular season and conference tournament championships.
“Mackenzie was the perfectionist.” said Clark-Zerbe talking about Audas. “Her spin was always on, her location was ice cold, and her change buckled probably every hitter in and out of the conference. She was a force in college softball from the outset, but somehow always seemed to stay under the national radar. That kid could pitch and had a humble worker’s heart. To watch the way she carried herself, you’d never know she broke so many records. But that was her. Praise always brought no more than a shy smile from that kid.
As the Knights and Cougars renew the rivalry this weekend and for years to come future Knights and Cougars will look to follow the path left before them.
“I just hope that my legacy at UCF can inspire the next pitchers to come in and be even better than me just like Allison inspired me”.said Audas.
Special Thanks to Allison Kime-Trela, Angel Shamblin, Mackenzie Audas-Packrall and Kaci Clark-Zerbe for contributing to this story. Thanks to UCFSports.com, UCFKnights.com and UHCougars.com with photos and videos courtesy of them.
On Saturday April 9th edition of SportstalkFlorida Insiders Show that aired on Sportstalk 1080am Orlando. Eric Lopez talked to former UCF Softball great, Allison Kime about broadcasting UCF -Tulsa for the American Conference Broadcast on the American Digital Network. Kime also talked about the following :
Keys to UCF Win over Tulsa on Friday and the rest of the series.
What it was like being in booth for broadcast of UCF-Tulsa.
Kime’s thoughts on 2016 edition of UCF Softball.
Kime thoughts on Shelby Turnier prospects at the Pro Level in the NPF.
This past Friday, Allison was in the UCF press box working as color commentator with Bernie Guenther when Turnier tied Kime for 2nd place with 71 career wins. Turnier would pass Kime on Saturday coming in relief to help UCF win 4-1 over Tulsa. UCF would go on to sweep Tulsa. It was the first time Tulsa had been swept in conference series since 2008 when UCF did it led by Kime who pick up 3 wins in that series.
Allison still holds 16 school records including career ERA (1.20), career shutouts (34) and most strkeouts in a game with 18 at Florida State in 2007. Kime helped UCF Win C-USA Tournament Championship in 2008 with a 4-2 win over No 9 Houston. The following week Kime led the Knights to NCAA Tournament Regional Final in Gainesville coming within 1 win away from Super Regional. Kime defeated South Florida in that regional with her bat with a 2 out 2 strike 2 RBI triple in the 6th inning to give the Knights a come from behind 3-2 win over USF. Kime would knock off No 1 rank Florida ending Gators 37 game long winning streak and 41 in a row in Gainesville with a 1-0 win in 8 innings. Kime not only threw 8 shutout innings but drove in the game winning run with walk off hit in Bottom of 8th. Kime is only UCF Softball pitcher to beat Florida, Florida State and South Florida in her career.
“She helped me adjust to the league tremendously, gave me tons of advice with hitters and how to be successful in the league,” Kime said about playing with Best. “Without her help I don’t know if I would have played a second year in league,” Kime said. “She was a great teammate and friend.”
In her 2nd and final season, Kime who was part of the 1-2 pitching punch with Cat Osterman won the NPF Championship over the USSSA Pride and Kime’s former teammate at UCF in Breanne Javier. Kime joined Best as UCF Softball players to win NPF Championship as Best did it with Monica Abbott and the Washington Glory in 2007.
Thursday night April 14th, Shelby Turnier is expected to become the third UCF Knight Softball player to be drafted in the NPF. Turnier and other Knight players hope to join these former UCF Softball Players that played in the NPF.
Stephanie Best 1st player from UCF Drafted in NPF in 2005
Kahley Novak was 2nd player from UCF to be drafted to NPF in 2015
–Stephanie Best (2005-2008,2010) with New England Riptide, Connecticut Braketettes Washington Glory, Rockford Thunder, and USSSA Pride – Drafted in 2005.
–Allison Kime (2008-2009) with Rockford Thunder. Signed as Free Agent
-UCF Softball Head Coach Renee Luers Gillispie was on USSSA Pride coaching staff in 2010 winning NPF Championship in 2010.
UCF holds its Hall of Fame every other year. One thing is for sure is in 2018 or 2019 whichever year UCF decides to hold Hall of Fame Ceremonies, Kime should join Best in another unique achivement as Kime will likely become the 2nd UCF Softball player to be inducted into UCF Hall of Fame joining Best who was inducted last year.
– Allison Kime Previews UCF in 2010 CUSA Tournament for UCFSports.com and on the UCF Softball pregame show from May 13,2010. Kime talked about broadcasting for Bright House Sports Network telecast of UCF hosting Florida that year. Kime also talked about UCF Softball chances at CUSA Tournament in 2010, reflected on UCF winning CUSA Title in 2008 , her rivalry with Angel Shamblin, Her career and more.
Megan Willis has decided to retire from playing Softball but that doesnt mean she will still not be involved in the game.
On Tuesday it was made official as Megan Willis announced that she is retiring from playing in the NPF. Willis will remain with the USSSA Pride as Willis was named to the USSSA Pride coaching staff as an asst coach. Willis will work under Florida State’s Head Coach Lonni Alameda who will begin her first season as the Pride’s Head Coach.
“After this past season with the Pride I knew wholeheartedly I was finished playing for good. It’s weird, I have been asked a few times if I will miss not playing and the answer is simple, no. I suppose that’s how you know you are ready to move on. That and I don’t want to have collisions at the plate anymore, and that used to be my favorite part!” said Willis on USSSA Pride press release on her decision to retire.
Willis follows her teammate Cat Osterman who retired from the Pride and NPF after last season. Willis began her NPF career in 2007 with the Chicago Bandits. After sitting out the 2008 season, Willis joined her University of Texas battery mate Cat Osterman on the Rockford Thunder and won the 2009 NPF Championship. Then, in 2010, Willis and Osterman were traded to the USSSA Pride where they continued their NPF dominance. In her eight professional seasons, Willis won four NPF Championship series, three NPF Regular Season Championships.
Currently Willis is a TV Color Commentator for the Longhorn Network where Willis calls Texas Longhorns Softball telecasts. Willis is also part of ESPN NCAA Tournament coverage working from the studio.
Last summer prior to the 2015 NPF Championship Series, Eric Lopez spoke with Megan Willis about her career,The NPF, Her interest in coaching after her playing career as well as her broacasting career. Willis also spoke about what would go into her decision to retire and much more as well as Cat Osterman retirement effecting her decision.
The Kentucky Wildcats win over the LSU Tigers on Saturday was the most watched regular season college softball game of 2016 to date. The 15th rank Wildcats win over the 8th rank Tigers on Saturday which was televised on ESPN Garnered 392,000 viewers passing by Alabama-Florida as the most watched regular season game of the season.
Oklahoma’s win at Baylor on Sunday which was televised on ESPN2 was the second most watched Softball game of the weekend with 208,000 viewers followed by two SEC conferences series in Georgia-Missouri on Saturday which garnered 163,000 viewers on ESPNU and Tennessee-Texas AM garnered 135,000 viewers on Saturday on ESPNU.
Florida State’s wins over North Carolina State on ESPNU on Saturday and Sunday averaged 81K in the two games with Saturday’s game being the most watched of the two with 89k.
LSU is involved in two of the three most watched Softball games this regular season with the Tigers game vs Florida on March 26th garnering 250K. All the Softball numbers are courtesy of SportsTVRatings.com