Jan. 27, 2012
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By Eric DeSalvo
ORLANDO, Fla. - A little rain wasn't going to keep the UCF baseball team from taking the field for the first as a unit in 2012. Friday's practice for the No. 21 Knights included a batting practice session, position drills and an eight-inning scrimmage.
"The offseason is officially over," head coach Terry Rooney said prior to Friday's practice. "The guys have been doing a great job in their individual skill work, weights and conditioning, but now we can officially get out there and work as a team."
UCF has been the recipient of preseason recognition as Baseball America ranked them No. 21 in its Preseason Top-25 rankings. Conference USA coaches also like what they see in the Knights, voting them No. 2 in the league's predicted finish standings as well as selecting D.J. Hicks (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) as C-USA Preseason Player of the Year and adding fellow juniors Ronnie Richardson (Eagle Lake, Fla.) and Darnell Sweeney (Mirarmar, Fla.) to the preseason all-conference team.
"It's nice to get a lot of preseason recognition, but we still have to go out and play our game," Richardson said about the preseason accolades. "It won't mean anything if we got out and lose to Long Island. We have to go out and play our game because no one is going to say 'Oh they are No. 21 and supposed to finish second in their conference' and lay down."
The Knights will hold open practices on Tuesdays-Friday's starting at 2:30 p.m., Saturday's at Noon and Sunday's at 1 p.m. for the next two weeks all while leading up to Opening Knight on Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. Admission will be free for all who come out to the UCF baseball complex for the season opener.
News & Notes: The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) announced its preseason rankings Friday with the Knights checking in at No. 28. This is the second preseason ranking for UCF as it is No. 21 in the Baseball America rankings...The sound of progress was very loud Friday afternoon as construction workers continued their efforts in completing Phase I by Opening Knight. Bleacher installation began in brand new upper-deck levels above the first-base line.