By J.C. Carnahan
UCF’s baseball team spent the nonconference portion of its schedule being knocked around by neighboring teams from around the state.
If early losses to No. 17 Florida, No. 24 Miami and USF weren’t tough enough for the Knights to swallow, setbacks against the likes of Bethune Cookman and North Florida further muddied their resume.
Luckily for the Knights though, it’s how they fare in their final Conference USA season that will ultimately dictate their postseason fate.
UCF (17-10, 3-1 C-USA) responded by opening conference play last week with a three-game sweep of UAB after splitting four games with Jacksonville and winning two in a row over Florida A&M.
Parker Webster was named C-USA Hitter of the Week on Monday after coming through as the lone player on the team to record a hit in each of UCF’s previous five outings.
Webster had no such luck at the plate Wednesday as the Knights lost 4-1 to Southern Miss.
UCF continues the series with the Golden Eagles (10-15, 2-2) on Friday and Saturday before heading north to Gainesville for a rematch with the Gators on Tuesday.
NCAA Madness Coming To End For Locals
The men’s basketball postseason ended Thursday for Dr. Phillips High School product Shane Larkin as the second-seeded Miami Hurricanes lost 71-61 to No. 3 Marquette in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
Larkin entered the game having tallied 27 points and 14 assists in two tournament wins over No. 15 Pacific and No. 7 Illinois. He finished with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists in the loss Thursday.
On Friday at 10 p.m., Sherwood Brown of Olympia High School and Brett Comer of Winter Park High School look to continue the most improbable run of the tournament as 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast takes on No. 3 Florida in Arlington, Texas.
In a 78-68 win over No. 2 Georgetown and an 81-71 win two days later against No. 7 San Diego State, Brown combined for 41 points and 17 rebounds while Comer added 22 points and 24 assists.
Former Coach Wins Again Against Predators
Shortly after being bounced in the first round of the Arena Football League playoffs in 2011, the Orlando Predators parted ways with second-year coach Pat O’Hara and have since suffered the consequences.
On Sunday O’Hara, a former Preds quarterback now in his second season as coach of the division-rival New Orleans VooDoo, defeated his former team for the third time in a row.
New Preds quarterback Kyle Rowley was intercepted for the second time on Sunday in overtime of a 51-45 loss to start the season. The turnover came after Rowley forced the extra period by hooking up with Jason Geathers for a 12-yard touchdown to tie the game with three seconds left in regulation.
O’Hara went a combined 9-9, and just a field goal shy of the ArenaBowl in 2010, before going 11-8 in 2011 as the head guy in Orlando. He led New Orleans to an 8-8 mark in 2012 while the Preds went 4-14, missing the playoffs for the first time since 1991.
The Predators are back on the road again Friday against the San Jose SaberCats at 10:30 p.m.
For more on local sports, follow J.C. Carnahan on Twitter @JCCarnz