The mood was far from somber as head coach Terry Rooney met with members of the media on Friday to recap what he called “one of the best seasons in UCF baseball history.”
His sentiments are reflected in the numbers as well.
Coming off of a 45-win season, the Knights fell just short of a bid to make it to the program’s first Super Regional. After winning the first two games in the Coral Gables Regional, the Knights dropped two in a row to the Stony Brook Seawolves and were eliminated from the postseason, leaving the ball club short of its ultimate goal of advancing to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
“It’s OK to feel disappointed because we fell short of getting to Omaha, but there shouldn’t be any regrets,” Rooney said. “They have nothing to ever hang their heads about, just be proud of what they accomplished, and as their coach, I’m very proud of this season.”
Rooney spoke Friday on the momentum that had been built by his program’s performance in 2012 and how that will impact expectations going forward, but he also noted that with the loss of several key players to graduation or the MLB First-Year Player Draft, he has plenty of work to do during the offseason.
“We lose a lot of great players who for the last four to five years have made this program what it is,” Rooney said. “There will be new faces out there, but great returning players, too.”
As the fourth-year skipper sees it, there are more positives to take away from this season than there have been in several years. Still, areas of improvement exist, and one area that Rooney pinpointed as needing to improve is offense.
Specifically, the Knights could use a right-handed bat with some power.
“We need more power next year," Rooney said. "We need to hit better next year. Our offense is something that our program has really been built around.”
With rising seniors Ryan Breen and Chris Taladay taking the reins as the new leaders of the team, Rooney claims they will be “two of the best players in the country next year.”
With that in mind, Rooney said the goals of his program have not changed and the expectations will be just as high in 2013, UCF’s last baseball season in Conference USA before the athletic program’s migration to the Big East.
“Get to Omaha,” Rooney said. “That’s the next step.”