Greg Lovelady was named the head baseball coach at UCF on July 11, 2016. He will enter his third season in charge at UCF for the 2019 season.
The 2018 campaign saw the Knights post some historic storylines. On March 6, the Knights downed the top-ranked team in the nation for the first time in program history with a 9-7 victory over Florida. UCF turned around and completed its first sweep of a No. 1 ranked opponent with a 4-2 win in Gainesville the next night.
Lovelady guided UCF to its fifth-longest winning streak in program history at 13 games during the 2018 season. The Knights also recorded the second most shutouts in a single campaign with nine.
There were plenty of individual accolades to go around. Rylan Thomas set the single-season record for UCF and The American with a 47-game on-base streak, which was a part of the second longest streak in program history at 55 games. Thomas and junior pitcher Thad Ward were named to The American All-Conference First Team, while Ray Alejo, Dallas Beaver, Tyler Osik and Matthew Mika garnered Second Team honors.
Pitching was the bedrock of the Knights' success in 2018. The pitching staff led the nation with nine shutouts and finished third in the country in hits allowed per nine innings, a school record 7.2. UCF's 3.32 ERA was among the top-15 nationally, while 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings ranked seventh and a 1.22 WHIP was ninth. The Black and Gold notched its second most punchouts in a single season with 556.
The Knights also wreaked havoc on the base paths with 109 stolen bases on the year, good for ninth in the country. Ray Alejo and Matthew Mika finished in the top two spots in The American with 34 and 27 swipes, respectively. The Knights also stole home on three occasions, led by Alejo with two.
Continuing to improve the culture and talent level at UCF, Lovelady brought in the 16th ranked recruiting class, per Collegiate Baseball, prior to the 2018 campaign. After replacing 20 graduating seniors, the Knights went 35-21 with a 13-10 mark in The American to finish in fifth place, but the season came to a close when the Black and Gold found itself in the first four out of the NCAA Tournament.
After the conclusion of the 2018 season, six Knights were taken in the MLB Draft. Thad Ward (5th, Boston Red Sox), JJ Montgomery (7th, Baltimore), Bryce Tucker (14th, San Francisco), Rylan Thomas (26th, Cincinnati Reds), Eric Hepple (27th, Colorado Rockies) and Cre Finfrock (29th, Toronto Blue Jays) made it 10 draft picks during the Lovelady era.
In his first campaign with the Knights, Lovelady guided UCF to the American Athletic Conference regular-season title with an overall record of 40-22 and a 15-9 mark in league action, earning The American Coach of the Year honors in the process.
The Knights saw drastic improvements offensively and pitching in Lovelady's first year. UCF jumped up to 66th in the nation in scoring from 222nd in 2016, eighth in stolen bases up from 77th and 44th in runs from 189th. The pitching staff posted the fifth best ERA in the nation with a 3.0, compared to the 4.23 mark during the previous year. Pitchers took the team to 28th in strikeouts per nine innings, 24th in strikeouts-to-walks ratio and 10th in WHIP.
Lovelady oversaw four Knights selected in the 2017 MLB Draft, including Jason Bahr (5th Round, San Francisco Giants) and Robby Howell (10th Round, Cinncinati Reds).
Also in 2017, Lovelady coached Rylan Thomas (NCBWA, Perfect Game, Baseball America, DI Baseball and College Baseball News) and Joseph Sheridan (College Baseball News and Perfect Game) to Freshman All-American honors. Senior Robby Howell was tabbed ABCA All-Region.
In his career, Lovelady has coached 38 MLB Draft picks between his three coaching stops, including 14 Top-10 round selections and nine tabbed in the first five rounds. Three players under Lovelady's tutelage have gone in the first round, including the fifth overall pick in 2005 and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun.
Lovelady came to Orlando after spending three years as the head coach at Wright State, where he led the Raiders to consecutive runner-up finishes at NCAA Regionals in 2015 and 2016. As the Raiders' head coach, he has compiled a 124-56 record in three campaigns and was with the Raiders for a total of 12 years. Wright State has won the Horizon League Regular Season or Tournament Championship (or both) in each of Lovelady's three seasons at the helm. He was named the 2014 and 2016 Horizon League Coach of the Year, as well as the 2016 ABCA/Diamond Mideast Regional Coach of the Year.
Lovelady won a Wright State school record 46 games and its second straight Horizon League tournament title and reached his second straight NCAA Regional Final in Louisville, falling to the #2 ranked and host Cardinals 3-1. Along the way, WSU posted a 7-3 win over Ohio State.
Along with being named the Horizon League Coach of the Year for the second time, Lovelady was also selected as the ABCA/Diamond Mideast Regional Coach of the Year.
Eight Raiders were honored with Horizon League postseason awards, including the Freshman of the Year in Caleb Sampen, who was later named to the Louisville Slugger All-American Freshman Team. Senior Jesse Scholtens, who made history by pitching the first perfect game in WSU history at Dayton on March 11, was chosen First Team All-Horizon League and First Team ABCA/Rawlings All-Mideast Region while senior outfielder Ryan Fucci was also named First Team All-Horizon League and Third Team ABCA/Rawlings All-Mideast Region.
To cap the 2016 season, five Raiders were selected by the Major League Baseball Draft over a three-day period. Catcher Sean Murphy went to the Oakland A's in the third round followed by Scholtens to the San Diego Padres in the ninth round, shortstop Mitch Roman to the Chicago White Sox in the 12th round, pitcher Robby Sexton to the Boston Red Sox in the 14th round and Fucci to the Seattle Mariners in the 25th round.
In 2015, Lovelady guided the Raiders to new heights as Wright State won a then-record 43 games and advanced to the NCAA regional finals against host Illinois after beating Ohio and Notre Dame. 11 Raiders were honored by the Horizon League, including Andrew Elliott being named Relief Pitcher of the Year and Gabe Snyder selected as the Freshman of the Year. Elliott was later drafted by the Baltimore Orioles.
His first season at the helm paid dividends as he guided the Raiders to a 35-22, 25-4 record and the Horizon League regular-season title. 10 Raiders received postseason honors, including Lovelady, who was named the Horizon League Coach of the Year as his squad set a new record for wins in league play. In all, the Horizon League honored WSU with 10 Players of the Week throughout the season.
More honors came in after the season as Andrew Elliott was named Third Team All-American by ABCA as well as First Team All Mideast. Sean Murphy was chosen as a Freshman All-American by Louisville Slugger. Michael Timm received accolades as well, being named to the All-Mideast Second Team, CoSIDA District Academic All American and to the Horizon League Spring Academic Team. In June, Travis Hissong signed a contract with the New York Yankees.
Along with his success with the Raiders, Lovelady has also been involved with USA Baseball, including a lead role in the tryout phase for the 14U team that won a gold medal in Mexico in 2015 and for the 15U team in 2016.
Before being named head coach, Lovelady was on Rob Cooper's staff for nine seasons, the final seven as associate head coach. Lovelady served as the pitching coach and worked with the catchers while off the field, he was the recruiting coordinator for the program, helping WSU to NCAA Tournaments in 2006, 2009 and 2011.
During the 2012 campaign, career win #250 came for the duo of Cooper and Lovelady at UIC on April 22 in the form of a 4-3 decision. The Raiders also posted the program's second-longest winning streak ever as the Raiders reeled off 14 straight victories during March and April, outscored their opponents 185-67 in the process. Also, during that stretch, WSU took home the Joe Nuxhall Classic title for the first time. Two pitchers were honored with Horizon League honors as Michael Schum was selected as the Relief Pitcher of the Year and Jordan Marker was voted to the HL's second-team.
The 2011 season saw head coach Rob Cooper record his 200th coaching victory with an 8-2 decision at home over Youngstown State on March 26. That season also saw Jake Hibberd become his fourth Horizon League Player of the Year, Michael Schum pick up his second HL Relief Pitcher of the Year and Corey Davis named the second League Newcomer of the Year under Cooper and Lovelady. Early-season wins over The Citadel and West Virginia helped catapult the Raiders to a sixth-straight 30-win season.
The 2010 season saw the Raiders win 30 or more games for the fifth straight year. Sophomore pitcher Casey Henn earn First Team All-Horizon League honors as he posted a 7-0 record with a league-leading 3.19 earned run average and 82 strikeouts in 84.2 innings while holding the opposition to a league-best .241 batting average. Senior pitcher Alex Kaminsky was named to the Second Team after winning five games with 88 strikeouts while senior catcher Gerald Ogrinc was selected to the First Team after throwing out 16 of 26 base stealers and recording five pickoffs to lead the league.
2009 saw freshman Michael Schum receive the Horizon League's Relief Pitcher of the Year award after leading the conference with a 1.95 ERA and 13 saves, striking out 57 in 74 innings. Schum was also named to the Second Team and the All-Newcomer Team.
In 2008, Lovelady led a pitching staff that saw Jon Durket earn First Team All-Horizon League honors. As a staff, Wright State ranked second in wins and led the Horizon League in Fewest Hits Allowed. Durket led the league in ERA and Alex Kaminsky led the league in wins and opponents batting average against.
In 2007, the Raiders boasted the most wins in the Horizon League (36) and held the second best team ERA. The Green and Gold boasted only the sixth pitcher in WSU history to win 10+ games in a season, Kyle Kearcher, and compiled the seventh highest win total in school history. The Green and Gold also set the school standard for league wins in a season with 21 victories.
In 2006, the Raiders pitching staff set a new school mark for pickoffs in a season (28) and came within 1/3 of an inning of breaking the school mark for innings pitched in a season. The Green and Gold own a team ERA of 5.14 over the past three seasons and have won 94 games in that span.
Lovelady has also started to shape his pitchers and catchers into major league form. Relief pitcher Joe Smith opted to leave WSU after a spectacular junior season and was taken with the 93rd overall pick in the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft by the New York Mets organization. Smith made his Major League debut on April 1, 2007, in St. Louis.
Lovelady came to WSU after a successful playing career and three-year stint with one of the nation's elite teams in Miami (FL). The Hurricanes won two national championships, in 1999 and 2001, with Lovelady as the catcher. A four-year letterman for the 'Canes, Lovelady captained the 2001 squad that won its second national championship in three years.
Lovelady hit a career best .314 with a 14-game hitting streak during his 1999 campaign. Lovelady was also a fan favorite in Coral Gables, receiving the Arnold Novins Award in 2001, an honor bestowed on the "Most Popular Player" as voted by the fans of Miami. The 'Canes made a postseason appearance during each of Lovelady's years as a player and coach in Coral Gables. UM Reached the College World Series five times and advanced to the NCAA super regional seven times while Lovelady was on campus.
Lovelady graduated from Miami in 2001 with a degree in Finance and a minor in Sports Management as a member of the university's deans list. Professionally, Lovelady played with the Utica Blue Sox, an affiliate of the Florida Marlins, and helped develop two UM catchers and numerous pitchers into major league draft choices.
Lovelady and his wife Lindsay have two sons, Noah Preston, who was born on December 16, 2008, and Gavin Philip, born on June 10, 2012.
The Lovelady File
Born - January 11, 1979
Hometown - Miami
College - Miami (Fla.)
Family - Wife, Lindsay; Sons, Noah and Gavin
Head Coaching Highlights
2017 - AAC Regular-Season Championship
2016 - ABCA/Diamond Mideast Region Coach of the Year
2016 - NCAA Louisville Regional
2016 - Horizon League Regular Season & Tournament Championships
2016 - Horizon League Coach of the Year
2015 - NCAA Champaign Regional
2015 - Horizon League Tournament Championship
2014 - Horizon League Coach of the Year
2014 - Horizon League Regular Season Championship
2018 - 35-21 (13-10 American Athletic Conference)
2017 - 44-22 (15-9 American Athletic Conference - NCAA Tallahassee Regional
2016 - 46-17 (23-6 Horizon League) - NCAA Louisville Region Runner-Up
2015 - 43-17 (21-8 Horizon League) - NCAA Champaign Region Runner-Up
2014 - 35-22 (25-4 Horizon League)