Baseball preview: Bats on deck
Two top-20 recruiting classes — UCF can have whatever they like
Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Updated: Thursday, January 27, 2011 14:01
Replacing Chris Duffy and Shane Brown will be no easy task.
The former Knights and current MLB players hit over .400 last season, and the Knights baseball team has a tough road ahead in making up for their production.
After a strong end to the 2010 campaign, the Knights finished 33-22 overall and had the most wins in Conference USA play (10) since joining the conference in 2006. While the Knights tied for last in C-USA standings, they had the second-best overall record of the nine C-USA teams. The team welcomed in their second consecutive top-20 nationally ranked recruiting class.
The Knights welcome back the majority of their young lineup. Last year, UCF was the only school in the nation to have five freshman start 35 games.
Ronnie Richardson, a member of 2009's top-4 ranked recruiting class, made 45 starts at center field as a freshman and is the only player with a lot of fielding experience returning to the outfield.
Sophomore shortstop Darnell Sweeney was the only Knight to start all 55 games last season and batted .358. He was voted on C-USA's All-Freshman Team.
Chris Taladay won C-USA Baseball Freshman of the Year for his performance at the plate as well as his defensive efforts at third base and catcher.
The Knights also lost key leadership roles in Brown and Duffy. Expect senior first baseman Jonathan Griffin and junior catcher Beau Taylor to lead the team. Griffin was second on the team in homeruns with 13. Taylor currently owns UCF's third-longest hitting streak at 21 games. The streak will carry into this season.
On the mound, the Knights get back left-handed pitcher Joe Rogers, who went 4-2 with eight saves on the season last year. The team has depth at pitching with their top six pitchers in ERA returning, and 18 total pitchers on the roster.
The UCF Baseball Fan Fest, presented by B2 Café, is Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at The Venue. The event is free to everyone but fans can purchase a $5 ticket to win prizes and eat a B2 Café meal.
Fans are invited to attend an intrasquad scrimmage prior to Fan Fest at 2:30 p.m. Fan Fest will end around 6:30 p.m., in time for fans to attend the basketball game against UAB at 7 p.m.