UCF Back on the Diamond as Baseball Begins Spring Practices

Feb. 1, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - At this time last season, the UCF baseball team was only two days away from opening the 2007 campaign against Florida International. In 2008, however, the Knights kicked off the month of February with their first full team practice of the year as Friday marked the new nationwide start date for all Division I teams to hold practices.

After the pitchers and catchers worked with associate head coach Craig Cozart in the bullpen and assistant coach Bryan Peters met with the infielders, the Knights stretched in right field and immediately set up for batting practice. Junior catcher Brandon Romans was quick to put on a power display, sending drives to the left-center gap during his session before firing a pair of balls over the left-field fence in his final trip to the plate.

Meanwhile, senior catcher Tim Russell was successful at driving the ball the opposite way, and senior infielder Dwayne Bailey's first cut witnessed him hit the base of the left-field fence, indicating that his 2008 campaign could see a huge power boost after he led UCF with 11 sacrifice bunts in 2007.

The B.P. group that consisted of sophomore Chris Duffy, junior first baseman Kiko Vazquez and outfielders Chadd Hartman and Colin Arnold formed a four-man unit that could produce plenty of run support for the UCF pitching staff this season. And they demonstrated their talents with a host of line drives during their sessions, capped off by a towering homer into the palm trees in left off the bat of Vazquez.

Once batting practice came to a close, fielding work was on tap with the outfield consisting of Arnold and senior Matt Lambert in left, senior Tyson Auer and Hartman in center and senior Ryan Richardson in right, who made a diving snag in the right-center gap in batting practice en route to demonstrating his outfield mobility has returned for 2008. Filling out the defensive positions, senior Tim Russell and sophomore Shane Brown donned the catcher's gear, Vazquez and freshman Evan Stobbs took over first, junior Nick Choto and sophomore Kyle Mills handled second base, Bailey and freshman Stephen Branca worked over at shortstop and Duffy and junior Josh Siebenaler covered third base.

Following a quick drag of the field, senior righty Jaager Good took the hill for the gold team to open up a seven-inning intra-squad scrimmage, but Siebenaler rudely greeted him with a sharp single into right on the first pitch. Bailey then laid a perfect sacrifice bunt down that Duffy barehanded at third and tossed over to first to retire the speedy infielder. Arnold plated Siebenaler by ripping a double to left to put the first run on the board.

The black squad took the field with sophomore right-hander Austin Hudson on the mound, and he immediately showed some glove work by retiring Auer on a 1-3 putout. Hudson completed his first inning by inducing Branca into a groundout and Vazquez to fly out to right.

When the Knights concluded the scrimmage, they will only have a couple of hours to prepare for day two as UCF retakes the field again for a morning practice and a nine-inning intra-squad at Jay Bergman Field Saturday.

Every team throughout the country has three weeks to prepare for their season-openers on Feb. 22. For UCF, the Black and Gold welcomes Florida A&M for a three-game set Feb. 22-24, then hosts No. 6 Missouri Feb. 25 in a very early test to see how the Knights compare against one of the top teams in the nation.

Season tickets as well as single-game tickets are currently available by contacting the UCF Ticket Office at 407-823-1000, or by going online at www.ucfathletics.com, the official site for UCF varsity sports. Also check out UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.