Baseball: The Knights started conference play off with a bad 6-1 loss to Memphis on the road April 1, but later made fools of the Tigers coming back and winning the next two games in 9-2 and 7-1 fashion. Junior right-handed pitchers Robby Howell and Juan Pimentel pitched gems in the later two games showing why they are part of a deadly three-man American Athletic Conference rotation. Pimentel, not yet named the Knights third official starter has earned it however after going 8 1/3 innings, striking out eight and giving up one run. Howell in the meantime, wasted no time improving his perfect record to 6-0 after throwing eight solid innings, striking out four and giving up only two runs. The baseball team, now 17-13 overall and 2-1 in conference play, will play host to Florida Atlantic University on Tuesday, April 5, at Jay Bergman Field at 6:30 p.m. With still no official word, junior run-producer Austin Griffin still is missing from the daily lineup cards, hinting at the confirmation of a likely hamstring injury that was speculated by Orlando Sports Daily after leaving the game against Jacksonville on March 29.
Softball: After starting off their conference play with a 1-0 win over the UConn Huskies in the cold weather April 1, the rest of the four-game road series was cancelled due to weather complications. Now, the 24-13 Knights come back home to the UCF Softball Complex to take on the Florida Gators on April 6, and then three straight games against conference rival, Tulsa, starting on April 7. Also making headlines were senior pitcher Shelby Turnier and head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie. Turnier, who pitched a complete game shutout against UConn on April 1 climbed near the top of two different program records. By claiming the 70th win of her career, Turnier joins former players, Mackenzie Audas and Allison Kime as the trio tied for the record. She also claimed third place in program history for dominating her way towards her 21st career shutout. Meanwhile from the sidelines, Gillispie collected her 548th win with UCF and her 800th career victory as a softball coach from her many years of experience.
Basketball: Freshman center Tacko Fall may have use yet as newly hired head coach Johnny Dawkins arrived to UCF to take on the job of turning around a 2015-16 struggling Knights squad. Picking up after a disappointing 12-18 season, Dawkins, 52, who was hired on March 24, identifies utilizing the big guys around the basket and making them a known presence on offense as a big goal for the 2016-17 team. But Dawkins will also use the teachings and skills he learned from not only playing in the NBA, but also from legendary college basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski. Dawkins played college ball under the legendary college basketball head coach in the early 1980s at Duke University in North Carolina, and later returned to act as the right hand man to "Coach K". After spending eight years with Stanford as the head coach, racking up a 156-115 record and leading the Cardinal to the NCAA tournament in 2014 and the NIT championships in 2012 and 2015, Dawkins was fired March 14 following a 15-15 season, according to USA Today.
Also in the headlines was Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, who was brought on as the key to success for the 2016-17 women's basketball campaign. Hired on April Fool's day, Albany University's Abrahamson-Henderson, 49, will replace former head coach Joi Williams, who was fired March 7. Williams coached the Knights for nine years and collected a 7-23 record during her final season. Coming from a program that in six seasons accumulated a combined nine America East Conference tournament and regular season titles, Abrahamson-Henderson also racked up five 20-win seasons and helped lead the Great Danes to five-straight NCAA tournament appearances. This is something Athletics Director Danny White preached on when announcing the hiring of the often, successful coach who has a talent for winning. Garnering three Coach of the Year awards and leading the Great Danes to a league play record of 83-13, "Coach Abe" led 38 consecutive victories from February 2012 to February 2014 — the longest winning streak in all of Division I women's basketball. Maine previously held the record with 37 straight wins from 1995 to 1997.
Evan Abramson is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. You can follow him on Twitter at @Evan_Abramson and email him at EvanA@centralfloridafuture.