Countdown to Opening Day: Season Preview - Outfield

Feb. 12, 2011

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By Brian Ormiston

Part One - C
Part Two - 1B
Part Three - 2B
Part Four - SS
Part Five - 3B

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The sixth part of UCFAthletics.com's season preview of the 2011 UCF baseball team focuses on the outfield, and the Knights appear to have addressed two concerns when the 2010 season came to a close.

Left Field
-So. Ryan Breen - Freshman All-American, moves to the outfield after serving as the DH and a catcher in 2010 (will still see time behind the plate this year)
-So. Chris Taladay - C-USA Freshman of the Year, Freshman All-American, may see time in the outfield along with his duties at third base
-Jr. Alex Friedrich - Can play anywhere in the outfield, hit .295 last year after serving as a walk-on in 2009

Center Field
-So. Ronnie Richardson - Hit .297 and made just one error in 45 starts in center in 2010
-Jr. Alex Friedrich
-Sr. Kevin Vasquez - Versatile player who spent time on the infield and in the outfield a year ago, was 5-for-6 on the basepaths

Right Field
-Jr. Erik Hempe - Junior college transfer out of Cypress College in California, hit .357 with 15 homers last year
-Jr. Alex Friedrich
-Sr. Kevin Vasquez

Two of UCF's three starting outfielders on the 2010 squad have ventured to the minors as All-Americans Chris Duffy and Shane Brown are now busy in the professional ranks. Duffy spent his senior campaign in left field where Freshman All-American Ryan Breen looks to take over. Breen went .348 at the dish last season, scoring 46 runs and swiping 11 bases as the primary designated hitter and backup catcher.

Fellow backup catcher and starting third baseman Chris Taladay could travel to left field as well. The C-USA Freshman of the Year hit .352 with eight homers in 2010, but is trying to recover from an injury and will look to make it back to the lineup early this year.

Brown, meanwhile, solidified right field and that is where Erik Hempe will fill in the gap left by the senior. Hempe has shown some pop in his bat through the fall and preseason camp, and is one of two players from Cypress College (Ray Hanson) to join the Knights in 2011.

Returning for his sophomore season, Ronnie Richardson used his speed to make highlight-reel plays in center as well as on the bases. He recorded 36 RBI and 36 runs while hitting .297 and stealing 12 bases, and also had a .992 fielding percentage.

Two more Knights also bring their tools to the outfield. Alex Friedrich grew as a sophomore in 2010, finishing with a .295 average and six stolen bases, while Kevin Vasquez swiped five bases and had two doubles in 13 games.

Opening Day is quickly approaching, as the Black and Gold will host Siena Friday, Feb. 18, at 6:30 p.m. in game one of a three-game weekend series. Season and single-game tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (407) 823-1000 or by visiting UCFAthletics.com's Tickets section.