Opening Day 2008 - UCF Hosts Florida A&M Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 20, 2008

ORLANDO - The 2008 season has finally arrived, and the Knights welcome Florida A&M Friday-Sunday to Jay Bergman Field in what will be the latest starting date since 1976. Game one's first pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. with Jaager Good on tap to make the opening-day start.

UCF Game Notes in PDF Format

Florida A&M - 0-0 Overall, 0-0 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
UCF - 0-0 Overall, 0-0 Conference USA
Jay Bergman Field (2,230)
UCF leads, 11-2-1
Live Stats:

Upcoming Opponent
Florida A&M is coming off a 16-36 season but finished second in the MEAC with an 11-7 mark. The Rattlers have six starters returning, including All-MEAC First Team member Darryl Evans (So., OF) and All-MEAC Second Team honoree Corey McFadden (Sr., UTL). FAMU also brings back head coach Robert Lucas, who skippered the Rattlers from 1986-91 and led the team to three conference titles.

The Series
UCF and Florida A&M last met in a three-game series in 1985, with the Knights taking each contest by a combined score of 25-5. Overall, the Black and Gold owns an 11-2-1 mark vs. the Rattlers with the last meeting coming in 2005, a 10-2 UCF victory in Orlando. In the win, Knight pitcher Darren Newlin tossed seven innings without surrendering an earned run and struck out nine, while Ryan Bono, Chandler Rose and Justin Mahon each connected for a pair of hits.

2007 Quick Recap
UCF's 2007 campaign featured a C-USA postseason berth, numerous late-game heroics and many big crowds at Jay Bergman Field. The Knights finished with a 27-32 record and went 1-2 in the C-USA Championship, including a 1-0 victory over Houston in an elimination game. Meanwhile, UCF won two games after trailing after eight innings and were 3-0 in extra-inning affairs. The Berg witnessed a 58 percent increase in attendance from the 2006 season as 30,598 fans took part in the action.

UCF's Season-Openers
The Knights claim a 19-16 record in season-openers, but have dropped their last two contests (both to Florida International). In Jay Bergman Field openers, UCF holds a 2-5 mark.

Preseason Honors
A pair of Knights picked up Preseason All-Conference USA Team honors Jan. 30 as senior outfielder Tyson Auer and junior first baseman Kiko Vazquez were selected to the team by the league's coaches. UCF was one of four programs to have at least two selections to the squad.

C-USA Preseason Coaches Poll
Along with the Preseason All-C-USA Team, the coaches voted Rice as the preseason favorite to win the league, with East Carolina and Southern Miss in second and third, respectively. The Knights tallied 26 total points for sixth place.

2008 Preseason Coaches PollPredicted Order of Finish (First-Place Votes)1) Rice (8) - 80 points2) East Carolina (1) - 613) Southern Miss - 574) Tulane - 525) Houston - 386) UCF - 267) Memphis - 248) UAB - 229) Marshall - 13

A Whole New Look?
Even though the Knights return their entire infield from a year ago, the UCF coaching staff may open the year with a completely different setup. With Kiko Vazquez beginning 2008 on the bench with an injury, sophomore Shane Brown and freshman Evan Stobbs could see a lot of time at first base, while Tim Russell has experience at first as well. Chris Duffy, who spent most of his freshman campaign in 2007 at third base, may return to third or suit up as the designated hitter.

At the middle infield positions, senior Dwayne Bailey has spent the majority of the preseason at shortstop, moving over from his customary second base spot. Taking over 2B might be newcomer junior Josh Siebenaler or sophomore Kyle Mills. Siebenaler also has worked over at third, while junior Nick Choto and freshman Stephen Branca are in the mix in the infield as well.

Tough to Replace
UCF may not have lost a lot of student-athletes from last year's squad, but the Knights will have a difficult task in replacing Matt Horwath, Brian Brooks and Derek Abriola. Horwath hit .336 in 2007, mostly as the designated hitter, and transformed into a leadoff hitter that always seemed to make contact. Brooks closed his career as the program's all-time leader in relief appearances with 82 while he had the second-lowest ERA last year with a 2.42 mark. Abriola, meanwhile, finished in fifth place in career appearances out of the pen and tied for third on the 2007 squad with 22 games on the mound.

Carrying Them Over From 2007
Three current Knights finished last season with hitting streaks of at least three games. Tyson Auer and Kyle Mills each had a hit in their final five outings, while Kiko Vazquez record a base hit in his last three games of 2007.

The Berg Will Be Very Active This Year
The Knights are scheduled to play 38 games in the confines of Jay Bergman Field in 2008, marking the most home contests since the stadium opened in 2001 and the most dating back to 1991 when the Black and Gold played 41 home games.

Info on the New Scoreboard
The Knights' updated scoreboard measures 38' wide by 32.5' high, and features a traditional display board, two LED video/graphic displays, six backlit advertising panels, the facility's name and the UCF script logo at the top. There also is a pitch-speed display for fans to check out.

The new board was being manufactured and installed by Capturion, Inc. of Laurel, Miss. The main video board measures 22' by 11' with 20mm full color LED display, while the bottom video board stands at 36' by 3' with 22mm full color LED display. The scoreboard itself is 36' by 9'4" with amber LED modules.

UCF's previous board was taken down beginning Feb. 4. It was originally built when the stadium opened in 2001.

A Look Ahead
Following the series with Florida A&M, UCF gets right back to work with one of its toughest tests of the season. The Knights are set to play host to No. 6 Missouri Monday at 3 p.m. The Tigers will serve as the third-highest ranked team to visit Jay Bergman Field since the stadium opened in 2001. No. 1 Rice visited The Berg in 2006 while No. 2 LSU trotted into Orlando in 2004.