UCF coach George O'Leary laughs during the coaches versus players softball game. (Jon Busdeker, Orlando Sentinel / April 17, 2014)
University of Central Florida football players faced the UCF coaching staff in their annual softball game. The tradition goes back more than 10 years.
UCF’s freshmen pulled off a shocker on Thursday, downing all three upperclass teams en route to a 14-12 championship game win over the Knights’ coaching staff in the football team’s annual softball tournament.
Linebacker Chequan Burkett was the unofficial most valuable player, slugging three 3-run home runs over the course of the tournament. Walk-on Michael Colubiale added a grand slam and showed a solid glove at shortstop in the championship game against the coaches.
The freshmen took a commanding 14-0 lead through their at-bats – players are given just one swing each – but the coaches clawed back. The UCF staff opened with back-to-back jacks and a three-run bomb from assistant head coach Brent Key closed the gap within 14-11.
Knights’ coach George O’Leary stung an RBI single through the left side of the infield, but Key’s final at-bat was snagged out of the air by an unbelievable bare-handed grab from freshman walk-on Jamari Fye.
The coaches had only lost one game in the past 10 years, Key said.
There were some ghastly swings on display throughout the course of the day. Offensive lineman Micah Anderson had to be taught to hold a bat, while some of the Knights’ top athletes struggled with the simplest baseball movements.
Redshirt freshman Shaquem Griffin, whose left hand was surgically removed at the age of four due to complications from a rare condition called Amniotic Band Syndrome, showed off his Jim Abbott-like instincts, catching a ball in the outfield, then ripping the glove off to make the throw to second base.
There was plenty to love about Burkett’s at-bats.
Burkett started the day with a home run that dropped in over the batter’s eye in straightaway center field and his next effort cleared the 20-feet tall scoreboard in right field. The last home run, though, was the best. Burkett destroyed a pitch against the coaches, with the ball sailing yards over the scoreboard and landing well beyond the fence.