October has ended, and with it, UCF fall baseball.
The Knights are now past fall baseball, and will end the semester with individual workouts before starting winter practices next semester. The season will be underway sometime in mid-February.
Last season, UCF narrowly missed making it to the NCAA Tournament, being named one of the selection committee's "last four out." You can't point to any one thing as the reason UCF didn't make the tournament, but certain things sure didn't help.
Home losses to Central Michigan and Central Connecticut weren't good, and winning instead of losing two one-run extra inning games on the road at a very good Ole Miss team might have put them over the top. But any baseball season is going to have a few games that get away.
The key in college baseball is to have consistent starting pitching.
That's the old adage in baseball isn't it? Good pitching gets you to the postseason and hot hitting wins it for you? Well, right now we're just talking about getting an at-large bid to the tournament, so who are going to be the guys on the mound who give those quality innings all year?
It appears the offense will be there for UCF. They were second in the American with more than 5.6 runs per game last year, and they didn't lose a single starting-position player. In college sports, it's hard to have consistency year to year, but UCF will have just that next season on offense.
Dylan Moore is going to hit. James Vasquez is going to get on base. Tommy Williams is going to hit for power. You know all this going into the year.
There's 27 outs in a game, in what is roughly a 60-game season. What UCF doesn't know is who's going to get those 1,620 outs.
They had the best pitcher in the American last year in Eric Skoglund, but he was drafted and signed by the Kansas City Royals. The second best pitcher on the team was Zach Rodgers, and he's coming back, but after him the team is full of question marks.
Other players that started significant games for UCF include Ryan Meyers, Spencer Davis and Tanner Olson. All three of those players return, and all of them were good in flashes last year, but none of them were consistent enough to secure a long-term weekend job.
Two wild-cards in the pitching shake up are Harrison Hukari and Mitchell Tripp. Hukari was redshirted last season after throwing 24 innings combined between his first two seasons at UCF. Had he not been hurt, Hukari may have been able to start at some point last year, but with the setback his junior season begins now.
Tripp is also intriguing because of what we don't know. Tripp is a transfer student from Lower Colombia College, the same school that Derrick Salberg transferred from. He redshirted his first season at UCF.
Rooney was high on Tripp at the end of last season, and thought that, had the season gone a couple more weeks, he perhaps would have been able to have been activated and give them some innings. Tripp also pitched three innings in the final game of the Black and Gold World Series this fall, and didn't allow a run.
There will be games this year when the pitching isn't good and the offense bails them out. But there's going to be a lot more games when the offense has an average day and scores three to six runs. That's enough to win a baseball game, as long as guys step up and are the pitchers that UCF needs them to be.