Knights baseball talk at media day about gearing up and getting ready for the season

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Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

The UCF Knights baseball team spoke with media as they prepare for their season opener against Siena.

ORLANDO – The University of Central Florida Knights baseball team gathered together for the team’s media day on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at the Jay Bergman Field on the UCF campus.

Coaches and players were leading the event by speaking about the team’s expectations towards the new 2013 spring season and how they will go about replacing star talent with inexperienced rookies.

“When you have great teams, you’re going to lose kids to professional baseball,” said UCF baseball head coach Terry Rooney.

“We certainly loss a handful of guys last year, but that’s the nature of college baseball. We got a outstanding nucleus returning, and the number one goal of this baseball program is to get to the NCAA regional tournament every year. But that’s not the ultimate goal, the ultimate goal is to get to Omaha.”

The Knights were one of the top teams in the nation last season having an overall record of 45-17 while ranking 24th in the USA Today final rankings. They also finished second in the Conference USA standings just behind Rice, and had a record of 16-8 in conference play. They would go on to earn one the best seasons Knights baseball has seen in school history.

This season the team has been predicted by polls to do less than what they achieved last year due to the amount of top players and talent that left the team last season. The Knights lost 12 players but have gained the same amount back for this upcoming season.

“The growth of the team has been outstanding,” said catcher Ryan Breen.

“Great talent every year, great recruiting class every year, and coach Rooney has done a great job building this program. The expectations is to win a regional.”

By eligibility UCF has 33 players on their roster for this season eight of them being freshman, and 10 seniors just picking out the veterans from the rookies. Coach Rooney has high expectations for the team captains especially the Knights ace pitcher Ben Lively that will receive the start for the season opener against Siena.

“My expectations for Ben is really high,” said Rooney. I can say that because Ben is a tremendous competitor. In my opinion he can have an All-American type year for us this year.”

Some of the key players that contributed to UCF’s record season last year were senior third baseman Chris Taladay which batted .298, had 49 RBI’s, and a slugging percentage of .393. Senior catcher Ryan Breen batted .264, and had 55 hits. Also, junior pitcher Ben Lively had a 3.00 ERA, had nine wins and two losses in 19 appearances, and had 84 strikeouts.

Central Florida starts out their season with a three game series against Siena starting on Friday, Feb. 15 and ending on Sunday, Feb. 17.