Feb. 11, 2012
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By Eric DeSalvo
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Part one of UCFAthletics.com's season preview of the 2012 UCF baseball team focuses on the catchers, and there are several familiar faces back this season with the addition of two newcomers.
-Jr. Ryan Breen - Started 41 games in 2011, including 27 in left field, 10 in right and four behind the plate
-Jr. Chris Taladay - Injuries shortened his 2011 campaign in which he started 38 games. Will see time in LF, 3B and behind the plate
-Jr. Nick Carrillo - Power lefty from Scottsdale, Ariz., who will see time in LF, 3B and behind the plate
-So. Ethan Smith - Former walk-on saw action in two games in 2011 behind the plate
-Fr. Dale Irving - Rookie joins team after earning four letters while playing catcher at Mosley High School in Lynn Haven
Unlike last season when former UCF backstop Beau Taylor started 58 of 61 games behind the plate, the Knights will lean heavily on a rotation of stoppers throughout the season. Taylor left the Knights after his junior season when he was selected in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Oakland A's.
Even without the services of Taylor, it's quite an impressive group behind the dish as both Breen and Taladay boast Freshman All-American awards and Carrillo joins them having led his team at Central Arizona College to the 2011 Junior College World Series Championship Game.
In 86 games combined last year, Breen and Taladay managed to combine for 88 hits and 46 RBI. Breen knocked out 10 doubles and cumulated a .360 on-base percentage. His counterpart, Taladay, managed a pair of homers and nine doubles before suffering a season-ending injury 40 games into the year.
The trio of Breen, Carrillo and Taladay have seen time behind the dish in fall and spring workouts, and fans can expect to see the three-headed monster in the lineup all in a row from left field, third base to catcher on a daily basis. Each possesses an intimidating presence while in the box with both Carrillo and Taladay hitting from the left side, and Breen hammering from the left and right.
With the trio named above playing on a regular basis, head coach Terry Rooney noted that Smith or Irving have the possibility of making the travel roster when the Knights hit the road.
Smith saw action in two contests in 2011, while Irving performed well up in the Panhandle during his high school career. He was named a Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-State selection for hitting .425 with five home runs and 33 RBI his senior season.
Opening Knight is quickly approaching, as UCF will open its newly renovated ballpark against Long Island this Friday at 6:30 p.m. in game one of a three-game weekend series. The game is FREE for everyone who makes it out to the UCF baseball complex. 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.