ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – After losing ifive pitchers to the 2018 MLB Draft, the UCF baseball team will look to a cadre of newcomers to assist a contingent of experienced veterans on the mound this season.
JJ Montgomery, Thad Ward, Eric Hepple, Bryce Tucker and Cre Finfrock all held substantial roles for the Black & Gold in 2018, but head coach Greg Lovelady and his staff brought in nine new arms, including graduate transfers Grant Schuermann and Kyle Kemp.
Chris Williams will be a prominent feature in the weekend rotation. The redshirt senior led The American with 1.64 walks per nine innings. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, the only pitcher to make the starting rotation in every weekend in 2018, posted a 2.81 ERA and 4-3 record with 79 strikeouts in 93 innings in 15 starts.
Jordan Spicer, along with transfers Schuermann and Trevor Holloway, will be pieces in the weekend rotation throughout the year. Spicer made 15 appearances last season with four starts for a 4-1 record and 44 strikeouts over 38.2 innings of work.
Holloway arrived in Orlando after winning the Junior College National Championship with Chipola last year, after transferring High Point, where he was a weekend starter. Schuermann spent the last four years at Furman, where he compiled a 14-14 record over three years as a starter.
The bullpen has a host of pitchers that have opportunities to make substantive contributions. Jeffrey Hakanson and Garrett Westberg made sizable jumps during the offseason and will be utilized late in games. Lefties Jaylyn Whitehead and Luis Ferrer will look to build on their success in 2018. Right handers Jack Sinclair and Nolan Lepkoske will be formidable presences on the mound.
David Litchfield is set to make his debut for UCF in 2019. The redshirt sophomore was sidelined last season due to injury but has made promising strides during his rehab. Joe Sheridan will continue his rehab heading into the campaign after going through season-ending surgery last year. The 2017 Freshman All-American's return date has not been set.
Transfers Zack Helsel, formerly of Liberty, and Tom Cheshareck have also impressed during the fall. The duo have the ability to go for multiple innings out of the bullpen. Graduate transfer Kyle Kemp will bright some much-needed experience to the bullpen after spending four campaigns at Lipscomb. Liam Silvagnoli, Zack Hunsicker and Ryan Saltonstall will provide depth to the bullpen as well.