Richardson looks to lead Knights to a Stetson sweep
UCF faces the Hatters Tuesday
Published: Sunday, May 15, 2011
Updated: Monday, May 16, 2011 10:05
Ronnie Richardson was drafted as a shortstop in the eleventh round of the MLB draft by the Minnesota Twins coming out of high school.
Instead, the Eagle Lake native moved an hour away from home to attend UCF and play center field.
"Part of my decision is I know what this program can be in the future and I wanted to be part of that," Richardson said. "Miami already had a traditional program, postseason and regionals, Florida State, Florida, all of those teams are already known for going to regionals and I just wanted to be part of UCF, become part of that group of great teams."
Last year, UCF was the only team in the country to have five freshmen start at least 35 games; Richardson was one of them.
This season, he is among three players who have started every game. The difference, however, is that Richardson is the only position player who also pitches. Richardson, who owns a .318 batting average, thinks it helps to be able to think as a batter when he pitches.
"It's different, I like it," Richardson said. "I enjoy the competition."
After only seeing time as the center fielder last season, Richardson was given the opportunity to pick up the ball and pitch for the first time since high school. It wasn't until March 11 when the sophomore had his first chance.
The Knights reached the ninth inning in Game One against Wagner and instead of sprinting out to center, Richardson hit the hill and struck out two.
This season, he has appeared in five games and earned a 0-1 record with one save, a crucial one against the Florida Gators.
"Hopefully when Joe [Rogers] goes in the game he [closes the game] but if I have to, I've got to make an adjustment and just focus up and switch my mentality from a position player to a pitcher," Richardson said.
Rogers, UCF's No. 1 closer, will likely not see time on the mound until Friday against Marshall for UCF's last Conference USA series. Instead, should head coach Terry Rooney pitch by committee against No. 15 Stetson on Tuesday, Richardson could have a chance to come out of center in the ninth to close out the game.
SweepingStetson would be a big deal for the Knights, who are still on the bubble for a postseason bid after a strong nonconference season and a sub-.500 C-USA season.
"It means a lot because we don't like to lose to any team in Florida," Richardson said. "We try to make sure we're one of the best teams in Florida by taking over our state."
The Knights defeated Stetson 8-2 in Orlando on March 29. Both teams were ranked. Tuesday's game is a makeup game as the game in DeLand scheduled for March 30 was postponed due to weather.
Bryan Brown is a likely starter against the Hatters on Tuesday. The junior earned the win in his first start of the season on May 3 at USF and has a 2-1 record.
CF Ronnie Richardson
C Beau Taylor
DH D.J. Hicks
3B Derek Luciano
RF Erik Hempe
LF Ryan Breen
2B Travis Shreve
SS Darnell Sweeney