John Denton's Knights Insider: Brown Putting Together Another Memorable Year

April 22, 2010

By John Denton

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - These days, UCF senior right fielder Shane Brown is hitting everything - with his bat, with his leg, his shoulder and his forearms.

Not only is the Winter Park native hitting a scorching .426 for the Knights, but he also is the runaway leader on the team in being hit by pitches. He's been plunked 19 times this season and a school-record 52 times in his four-year career.

Bruised and battered, Brown is incredulous when it comes to why he's getting plunked so much. But maybe it's just a sign of respect for pitchers that simply don't want to face the guy UCF teammates call ``Mr. Consistent.'' With his 66 hits, 21 walks and 19 times being hit by pitches, Brown has a .533 on-base percentage meaning he runs the bases more times than not during games.

``My average is really high because I'm seeing the ball well and I'm putting good swings on it. I've tried to be real consistent and that hard work is paying off,'' Brown said. ``(Getting hit by pitches) is just happening, I don't know why. I'm not even on the plate either; they are just hitting me. They are just pitching me in and hitting me.''

Brown has done plenty of hitting in his own right in his four seasons at UCF. He hit .367 as a sophomore, .341 as a junior and his .426 average trails only teammate Chris Duffy (.448) among active players in Conference USA this season. His .357 career average would rank as eighth best in UCF history, and among players who have lettered four seasons, Brown's .357 mark would be the third highest ever at UCF.

``The guy is an All-American. He puts up the numbers and has to be one of the most steady, confident hitters in the country,'' UCF coach Terry Rooney said. ``He's an All-American, he really is. He's done it for four years and now in his senior year he's risen to the occasion even more. It's pretty impressive.''

Brown's list of career accomplishments is quite impressive indeed. He ranks eighth all-time in hits (228), fourth in doubles (54) and he needs just seven more RBI (136) to move into the top 10 all-time in that category.

Brown's potent stick atop the UCF lineup has helped the Knights become one of the best hitting teams in school history. The Knights, who are 26-14 overall and 6-6 in C-USA play heading into this weekend's series at Marshall, have 28 double-digit hit outings in 40 games this season. The Knights are hitting .340 as a team, which would be the highest in school history, while it also ranks in the top-25 in the country.

UCF received a huge injection of talent this past offseason when Rooney brought in the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the country. But the unquestioned pillars of the team have been Brown and Duffy, the two senior corner outfielders from the Orlando area.

Rooney met with the two seniors not long after last season ended, instructing them that any sort of turnaround with the program would begin with their leadership. Brown and Duffy turned out to be de facto coaches, texting players during time off to monitor progress and checking up on the development of freshmen in need of direction.

``We're the seniors and we've been here for four years. The young guys have looked up to us,'' Brown said. ``Over that Christmas break when we broke as a team and went our different ways, it was our job to text guys and make sure they were staying on top of their work. We've both been big believers and it's paying off now.''

And all of Brown's time in the hitting cage is paying off as well. He is a student of the game when it comes to hitting, breaking down every facet of his swing. His theory, he said, is to try and keep things simple. As in see the ball, hit the ball and occasionally be hit by the ball.

And his teammates marvel at Brown's machine-like stroke.

``Shane Brown is Mr. Consistent. I learn from watching him hit,'' said Duffy, who is hitting .448 with 15 home runs and 59 RBI. ``He just makes good contact, he doesn't strike out a lot and he takes a lot of walks. I'm up there sometimes so anxious and it takes someone really special to be as patient as Shane is. I know how hard it is.''

Rooney said he's already dreading the day when he loses Brown and Duffy, the two biggest pieces on UCF stirring turnaround this season, to graduation. Both will likely be picks in the Major League Baseball Draft, but their departures will create a big void, Rooney said.

``I can't say enough about Shane Brown and Chris Duffy. Their numbers are incredible, but they are our leaders and the ones our team looks to on and off the field,'' Rooney said. ``Ever since our season ended last year, we had a long talk and talked about what it was going to take to get our program turned around.

``To see those guys have success, it's unbelievable,'' Rooney said. ``It's going to be a tough day for me the last day that I coach them, but we've got a long way to go as far as that's concerned.''


John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFathletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.