UCF Baseball Anxiously Looking Forward to Kicking Off Fall Camp Monday

Sept. 20, 2010

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By Brian Ormiston

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Coming off a season in which it posted its most victories (33) since 2005, the UCF baseball team officially starts its 2010-11 campaign Monday as fall camp opens at 2 p.m. The fall workouts will last just over one month, capping off with the Black & Gold World Series Oct. 20-22.

"We are extremely excited about the start of our fall team practices," said head coach Terry Rooney. "There has been a very positive mindset around this team, along with a sense of determination to make the 2011 season the best this program has had in a long time."

This fall features mostly afternoon practices with week one highlighted by sessions Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, a team lift Wednesday and a night practice Sunday from 5-9 p.m. Scrimmages will be held Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and fans are once again welcome to attend any practices at the baseball complex.

The Black and Gold World Series will be a best-of-three intrasquad event with games one and two starting at approximately 2:30 p.m. Oct 20 and Oct. 21. Game three will then mark the final team session of the fall and will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, the day before the UCF football team hosts Rice.

In Rooney's second year with the Knights, his squad finished 33-22 last season and collected 10 wins in Conference USA, the most wins by UCF since joining the league in 2006. In 2009, the Black and Gold had a RPI from No. 146-150, but last year UCF climbed all of the way to the top-80.

Even though the Knights were led offensively by All-American outfielders Shane Brown and Chris Duffy (who both just finished up their first seasons in the minor leagues) in 2010, there is still a lot of firepower on the roster for 2011. Brown and Duffy may have shattered the C-USA and UCF record books, but the returning Knights combined for a .318 batting average which would still have ranked in the middle of C-USA (UCF overall had a school-record .343 team average).

In center field, sophomore Ronnie Richardson is coming off a summer in which he was named a Cape Cod League All-Star, while he completed his freshman campaign with a .297 average and three outfield assists.

Over on the infield, all four starters return in senior first baseman Jonathan Griffin, sophomore second baseman Austin Johnston, sophomore shortstop Darnell Sweeney and sophomore third baseman Chris Taladay. Griffin was an All-Valley League First Team member in the summer, but for the Knights in the spring, he hit .344 with eight homers in his final 23 games. Johnston led all C-USA freshmen with 12 sac bunts and had a .961 fielding percentage. Sweeney earned a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman Team, hitting .358 with 51 runs and 17 stolen bases, and Taladay was the C-USA Freshman of the Year as well as a Freshman All-American thanks to his .352 average, 19 doubles and eight long balls.

And behind the plate, junior Beau Taylor returns after putting up big numbers in 2010. The Rockledge native hit .354 with 16 doubles, seven homers and 35 RBI, and will enter 2011 with a 21-game hitting streak.

Several other key bats are back, including last year's designated hitter and Freshman All-American Ryan Breen (.348, five HR), senior third baseman Derek Luciano (.342 in 21 GP), junior outfielder Alex Friedrich (.295, six SB) and two-way player D.J. Hicks who sat out most of his sophomore season due to an injury.

On the hill, Freshman All-American Joe Rogers returns and completed his first season at UCF with a 4-2 record, eight saves, 43 strikeouts and a 4.50 ERA. Junior Bryan Brown also helped anchor the pen with a 2-2 record and a 4.81 ERA, as did senior Chase Bradford who posted a 4-3 record with a 5.59 ERA.

Meanwhile, the Knights have several arms back who all made at least five starts in 2010: seniors Nick Cicio, Johnny Sedlock, Brennan Dobbins and Alex Besaw and sophomore Brian Adkins.

Joining the UCF program this fall are 11 newcomers, including six who were previously selected in the MLB Draft. Seven student-athletes in that group will be juniors this year, while eight overall are pitchers.

In all, UCF's roster consists of 10 seniors, 11 juniors, eight sophomores and five freshmen.