First 2011 Installment of In the Dugout with UCF Baseball

Jan. 11, 2011

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By Brian Ormiston

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - With classes back in session for the spring semester, the UCF baseball team also kicked off individual workouts this week as it looks ahead to its first team practice Friday, Jan. 28, at 2:30 p.m. Opening Day is just over a month away, where the Knights welcome Siena to town Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m.

Season tickets are now on sale and there are several different packages to choose from, including a weekend pack for just $115 and a family pack for only $275. Call the UCF Ticket Office at 407-823-1000 or visit UCFAthletics.com for more details. The Black and Gold has 32 home games on tap, highlighted by contests against Florida, Boston College, South Florida and Conference USA programs Tulane, Southern Miss, Houston and Marshall.

The baseball program also announced that its annual Fan Fest will take place Saturday, Jan. 29, at 5:30 p.m. prior to the UCF men's basketball game which tips-off at 7 p.m. Last year, Fan Fest attracted almost 1,000 Knights supporters. More information for this year's event will be released in the coming days.

Last year's recruiting class was rated as high as No. 4 in the nation, and the incoming class for 2011 picked up a No. 20 national ranking. Third-year head coach Terry Rooney visited with UCFAthletics.com to discuss Fan Fest as well as stadium renovations and what is ahead for the program. Check out the Flip Video of In the Dugout with UCF Baseball below.

UCF welcomes back the majority of its lineup and pitching staff from the 2010 campaign, a season which produced a 33-22 record and the most victories in C-USA play (10) since joining the league in 2006.

Freshmen All-Americans Chris Taladay (3B/C), Ryan Breen (DH/OF/C) and Joe Rogers (LHP) all return, along with C-USA All-Freshman Team honoree Darnell Sweeney (SS). Senior first baseman Jonathan Griffin pounded out eight homers in his final 23 games of 2010, and junior catcher Beau Taylor carries over a 21-game hitting streak, which currently ranks as the third-longest in UCF history (record is 26 set by Mike Myers in 2001).

Sophomore center fielder Ronnie Richardson (.299), senior third baseman Derek Luciano (.342), junior outfielder Alex Friedrich (.295) and sophomore second baseman Austin Johnston (.266) also are back. They join sophomore first baseman/right-handed pitcher D.J. Hicks who earned a medical redshirt a year ago and was on the C-USA All-Freshman Team in 2009.

With such a young team in 2010, it was no surprise UCF was the only school in the nation to have five freshmen make at least 35 starts last season.

On the mound, the pitching staff was led by Rogers who collected eight saves and a 4-2 record in his first year at the collegiate level. In all, the top six hurlers in ERA return for the Knights. And behind the arms, the defense finished with a .963 team fielding percentage, which was the second-highest in the last five years.