TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Ninety-eight degrees. As much as UCF loves blaring bubble-gum pop songs in its locker room on occasion, 98 Degrees actually was not a band of choice for the Knights Thursday. It was the predicted high temperature in Tallahassee. And with the colorful mercury set to possibly reach 100 Friday, UCF feels quite comfortable not only with its surroundings for the NCAA Regionals, but with the extreme heat as well.
"The heat won't be a big deal for us, and I've played in 120-degree weather in Arizona but that was a dry heat, so it's a little bit different out here. But all you do is just sweat a lot more," said right fielder Erik Hempe. "Today was a really good practice. We had a lot of energy, hit really well and had very good defense. It was short and sweet and we'll be ready tomorrow."
Following a delectable breakfast, the Black and Gold marched to Dick Howser Stadium and opened practice with some stretching and defensive drills while the pitchers took part in flat-ground exercises in left field. That led in to a healthy round of batting practice to close out the 1:15 session.
The Knights then boarded the bus back for their hotel, however head coach Terry Rooney stuck around for the 1 p.m. press conference at the stadium, which featured close to 40 people packed in FSU's tradition room.
"On behalf of everybody at UCF and our baseball program, we are really excited and honored to be here," said Rooney in his opening remarks. "It's a unique situation that we have had the opportunity to play all three teams in our regional. So I can tell you first hand of the outstanding quality of teams that we are playing. It's a tremendous regional and we are fortunate to be a part of it."
UCF will enjoy another appetizing team meal Thursday night, then will shut the lights off for one final sleep before it tangles with Alabama Friday at noon in the opening game of the Tallahassee Regional. Live video, audio and stats will be available on UCFAthletics.com.
For more comments from Rooney, the skipper shared his thoughts Thursday on his team's practice and what the Knights will be facing Friday in Alabama in the below video feature.