‘Everything Matters’ for UCF baseball in 2015


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Senior infielder Dylan Moore led the Knights with 73 hits, 46 runs and 17 doubles in 2014.

As the UCF Knights prepare to kick off another baseball season in the American Athletic Conference, the team will be launching an “Everything Matters” campaign.

After being named one of the last four teams out of the field of 64 teams last May, the Knights know firsthand how crucial every pitch can be. Despite a 36-23 record and resume-boosting wins over ranked opponents in Miami, Florida State, Louisville and Houston, the Knights were excluded from the NCAA postseason tournament.

“The emphasis is really just for every player to understand that in a game setting every pitch matters and everything that you do everyday matters in order for us to get to where we need to get to,” Knights head coach Terry Rooney said.

Although the Knights failed to make the tournament last season, they’ll begin the 2015 season ranked No. 22 in Baseball America’s top-25 preseason poll.

The road to get into the NCAA field of 64 will be a big challenge for Rooney’s squad in 2015 as they’ll face a total of 10 tournament teams from last season, highlighted by two Super Regional teams in Houston and Maryland and a College World Series team in Ole Miss.

A total of five opponents join the Knights in the preseason poll with American Conference foe Houston opening up the season at No. 3 while Florida will begin No. 6, Miami at No. 9, Maryland at No. 16 and Florida State at No. 21.

Rooney and his coaching staff will rely on the nine starting position players that return in 2015. Last season’s efforts rested heavily on a lot of new players, which played a role in the Knights starting off to a 7-11 record.

“I think last year [with all of the new players] it took us a little while to figure out what it takes to win,” Rooney said. “Even when we were struggling early I said, ‘I love coaching this team. We have a great work ethic – they’re confident, they’re positive. We just have to learn how to win.’ The hope is with an experienced team they understand what it takes to win, but just because we’re an experienced team doesn’t mean we’re going to win, everybody has to get better.”

Two players that will have key roles in the Knights’ season are infielders Tommy Williams and Dylan Moore. Williams is back for his senior year after leading the American with 12 home runs last season and earning an appearance on the All-AAC First Team list.

Moore returns for his senior year after a productive junior season that earned him a place on the All-AAC Second Team. Moore paced the Knights with 73 hits and finished inside the top 10 in the American in runs scored, hits, doubles and sacrifice flies.

“They’re very good,” said Rooney, on Williams and Moore. “Tommy and Dylan are both proven guys and are very successful. I think the middle of our field is good and they can play both spots. I think you’re going to see that this year where Dylan played second and Tommy played short and Dylan has a chance to play shortstop and Tommy at second.”

The Knights open up the 2015 season at home for a three-game weekend series against Siena beginning on February 13. Admission for the first game on Friday is free for all fans.