UCF baseball looks to claim AAC regular season title with strong play against USF
Knights with most wins in a season since 2012 thanks to Lovelady leadership
ORLANDO, Fla. – Having already clinched the War on I-4 against in-state rival, the University of South Florida, there's only one thing left on the minds of the University of Central Florida’s baseball team; Claiming the American Athletic Conference regular season title for the first time in program history.
The Knights (36-17, 13-8 AAC) have dramatically improved since last year’s last place finish in the American, and after losing three straight earlier in the year to the Bulls, the Knights hope to make a complete 180, claiming the program’s first regular season title since 2004 when the team was still part of the A-SUN conference.
Already, the Knights, under the first year leadership of head coach Greg Lovelady, have amassed more wins this season since the 2012 season when Terry Rooney was in charge. But it might not be good enough for UCF as they currently sit atop the conference with USF and Houston, with the University of Connecticut right behind them in sole possession of second place.
"If they would have told us in January, here is the situation you're going to be in, we all would've raised our hands and said we'd take it," Lovelady said in a story on UCFKnights.com. "It's exciting. These are the types of weekends that these kids will talk about for the rest of their lives."
But with the three-game series between the Knights and the Bulls starting Thursday at 6:30 p.m., playing the second game on Friday at 6:30 p.m and the third on Saturday at 1 p.m., four different teams have the possibility to claim the title.
For UCF to win the title, the Knights would either need a three-game sweep of the Bulls this weekend or a loss by Houston while also taking two games out of the three against the Bulls.
Houston would take home the American title if they could sweep fourth place Cincinnati combined with neither the Knights nor the Bulls sweeping each other.
For USF to win the conference title, the Bulls would need to sweep the Knights at home this weekend, or win two out of the three games while also seeing Houston lose one game in their series.
For UConn to win the conference title, the second place team would need a sweep over East Carolina University, combined with USF taking two of the three games against UCF.
That being said, the Knights have good chances of doing what they need to do, thanks to their strong pitching staff and powerful offense. While the pitchers lead the conference and rank No. 6 in the nation with a 2.84 ERA, the Knights also hold an advantage over the rest of the conference in run production with 344, the most in the AAC. The Knights also have stolen the most bases in the conference with 97 stolen bags, while ranking ninth in the entire nation.
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