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UCF introduced its new baseball head coach, Greg Lovelady, at a press conference on July 20, 2016, in the Wayne Densch Center for Student-Athlete Leadership. Video by Bernard Wilchusky

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Greg Lovelady was welcomed as Knights head baseball coach Wednesday morning at the Wayne Densch Center for Student-Athlete Leadership. Director of Athletics Danny White and UCF President John C. Hitt introduced Lovelady to a room full of media, athletics personnel and other coaches.

“There are so many great things about this place,” Lovelady said. “ … The talent that is here, not only in the state of Florida but in the Central Florida area is unbelievable and I believe that we are going to have a program that those kids are going to want to be a part of.”

Lovelady is a former two-time national champion catcher with the University of Miami. His last head coaching stint was with the Wright State Raiders for the last three seasons where he accumulated a record of 124-56.

“At the end of the day, I felt great about several candidates,” White said. “We got to a place where we had a tremendous amount of talent, and I say that to give credit to Greg, who ultimately won the job. We felt like [he] was the most compelling answer as someone who can not only in short term take advantage of the talent we have on our team, but in the long term build a program we can all be proud of for years to come.”

With Lovelady at the helm, the Raiders led their league in 14 statistical categories during the 2016 campaign, which earned him his second Horizon League Coach of the Year title. His first came in 2014. In each of the last three seasons, Wright State won either the Horizon League Regular Season or Horizon League Tournament Championship title.

“I think winning is a direct result of doing things the right way with how we handle ourselves and how we go about our business” Lovelady said. “It’s a proven formula that I really really believe in, and I am excited to bring that formula here, and it is going to be an exciting time for this baseball program. I really believe that where we can go is to the top, and I would not have come here if I didn’t believe that.”

Lovelady replaces Terry Rooney, who was at the helm of the Knights squad for the past eight seasons but decided to part ways with UCF and accepted a coaching position at Alabama. Rooney led the team to the NCAA tournament twice in his tenure, but the Knights have not qualified for the tournament since 2012.

The Knights finished last season 26-33, a record that does not reflect the season they could have had. If the Knights had not been plagued by numerous injuries and suffered defeat in 12 games in which they lost by only one run, the 2016 season could have looked a lot different.

Lovelady will look to get a senior heavy team to buy into his philosophy in order to achieve the success he has been accustomed to as a coach.

“I want [players] to enjoy this and have a good time,” Lovelady said. “ … If you looked at my teams in the regional with the deer head in the dugout and things like that, which was crazy, but you just don’t see that a lot. I think if you look at the teams that have a lot of success that is the type of culture that is in the dugout.”

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Matthew Saunders is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Email him at matthews@centralfloridafuture.com.

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