Friedrich looking to make his mark
Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 17:02
Sometimes it seems like college athletes have it made: an opportunity to play their sport at the professional level, thousands of fans, unlimited amounts of brand-name gear and a free education.
In most cases, universities don't have enough athletic scholarships for every athlete they look at and this dream doesn't become a reality. Some student athletes don't take that as an answer and take the long, grinding, and sometimes impossible road of being a walk on.
Even if it means potentially not making the team and paying tuition, they do it all for the hope of playing a sport they love.
The UCF baseball team has its own unique walk-on story.
Junior outfielder Alex Friedrich tried out for the Knights baseball team in 2009 and made the team as a walk-on. Friedrich lettered in football and baseball in all four years at University High School. He knew he could play football or baseball at the next level, but thought baseball was his only real chance at playing.
"I was offered the chance to play football but I figured baseball was the only chance I had to play," Friedrich said. "My parents helped me make the decision to play here at UCF and I've been grateful here ever since."
Two patient years have gone by for Friedrich, who is waiting for his breakout season. In the 2010 campaign, Friedrich played in 23 games, batted .295, and stole six bases. His biggest game came last season against Jacksonville on May 12, where Friedrich went 3 for 4 at the plate, drove in two runs, scored a run, and finished the night with a triple, a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base.
Teammate Darnell Sweeney thinks this will be Friedrich's breakout year.
"Alex Friedrich is a going to be a really surprising player," Sweeney said. "He's been working hard in the batting cages and in the field. There are a lot of good things you are going to see from him."
Friedrich brings a lot to the Knights. His speed makes him a lethal threat on the basepaths and will come in handy when the Knights need runs. He also plays all three outfield positions, giving the Knights much-needed depth in the outfield after losing Shane Brown and Chris Duffy, two of their starting 2009 outfielders, in the offseason. Friedrich thinks he is ready to make a big contribution to the Knights this season.
"Individually, I want to be an everyday starter and help contribute to the team as much as possible in any way that I can," Friedrich said. "I have really been working on speed a little bit more and I'm trying to hit for contact and get on base trying to use my speed so other players can knock me in for RBIs."
Friedrich has earned his spot on the UCF baseball team. He works hard, does everything he's told, and makes big contributions for the Knights.
Head coach Terry Rooney thinks highly of his junior outfielder.
"Alex Friedrich is a tremendous story and has earned his spot on this team," Rooney said. "Alex has continued to improve and is going to play a role for us and play some outfield this season. He's one of the strongest and fastest kids on our team; he does everything we ask of him."