Marc Daniels' From the Press Box: Triple Crown Material

March 25, 2010

Orlando, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Chris Duffy is not having a good season as UCF's left fielder. Chris Duffy is not having a great season. Chris Duffy is having something beyond amazing right now. He doesn't just lead the team in every offensive category, he leads the nation in just about every batting statistic you can think of. Not bad for someone who has finally settled into the role as UCF's offensive leader.

The road to today has not been an easy one for the Cypress Creek graduate. Duffy came to UCF with large expectations after being a ninth round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox back in 2006. Duffy was consistent in his batting average his first three years at UCF posting marks of .283, .282 and .285 at the plate. His strikeout numbers were high and it was easy to see his frustration at the plate. Duffy was expected to pound out homers, drive in runs and be a cornerstone of UCF's lineup.

Things began to click for Duffy at the end of last season. In the second half of the season he hit .340 and drove in 28 runs. That hot streak continued in the fall workouts and the hard work has paid off.

"His pitch recognition is so much better," said UCF head coach Terry Rooney. "I can't say enough about his commitment to get better and the job our hitting coach Cliff Godwin has done."

In simple terms, it sounds as if Duffy is seeing that white object coming from the pitcher sooner and smacking the ball all over the place. After Tuesday's game at Miami, Duffy is batting a blistering .530. That's not .530 for a dozen games. That's .530 almost halfway through a 56-game schedule. Duffy had 22 homers in his first three seasons at UCF. He has already hit a dozen this season. His 40 RBI are already a career high. He has 24 extra-base hits out of his 42 hits. His slugging percentage is 1.167 (Which means he is doing very well. Slugging percentage is like a QB rating. No one knows what it means. But in baseball when you have a 1 with a decimal next to it, Albert Pujols would be jealous of you).

The official NCAA stats for 2010 were just released, and Duffy either leads or is near the top in every key offensive category. His performance has drawn praise from national media who follow the college game. That attention is earned.

"You want guys that can put the ball out of the park," said Rooney. "Chris gives us that big bat to create a big inning."

Rooney has a number of big bats to go along with Duffy. Shane Brown, Derek Luciano, Jonathan Griffen, Beau Taylor and D.J. Hicks, when he gets healthy, provides UCF with its strongest power lineup in years.

As the Knights new pitching staff continues to develop, those big bats will be asked to carry the team into conference play. C-USA is as strong as ever and the top teams in the league have pitching depth. We will learn about the depth of the UCF arms in the coming weeks.

For now, Chris Duffy has become the player many thought he would be at UCF. He is in a zone players dream of reaching. He is having fun and he is on a pace to have one of the biggest offensive seasons in years in college baseball.

Knight Notes and More...Some football fans wonder how freshman quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey can see, let alone throw, over someone like 6-7 lineman Jah Reid. Seriously? You think it's an accident he shattered all of Dade County's passing records. Go look at the average height of his offensive lineman at Miami Central. They were big...Forget 40-times at the NFL Combine, I want someone to time Terry's Rooney's race to any umpire in the field to argue a call. My money is on Rooney any day of the week...Former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese told the Pittsburgh Gazette, "The whole expansion thing with the Big Ten is very, very unnerving...If the Big Ten comes and takes multiple teams from the Big East, I think the Big East is in trouble." Ouch...Final thought: Is there any better smell than fresh popcorn at the ballpark?

Marc Daniels' From the Press Box runs several times per month on UCFAthletics.com. Listen to Marc during UCF football, men's basketball and baseball radio broadcasts on the UCF-ISP Sports Network. Each weekday, Marc hosts "The Beat of Sports" on ESPN 1080 in Orlando from 9-11 a.m.