There are a lot of similarities between former UCF baseball assistant coach Cliff Godwin and his replacement, Joe Mercadante.
Not only is Mercadante a former catcher and the new hitting coach and recruiting coordinator, but he’s just as competitive, if not more so, than Godwin.
A former catcher at the University of Florida, Mercadante left the coaching staff of in-state rival Miami in June. Both are teams that the Knights face every season, but the change will not be difficult for Mercadante.
“Whatever uniform I have on, I’m going to be all for it,” Mercadante said. “Whoever is across the diamond, it really doesn’t matter. I want to win each game equally as much as the next one.”
In seven years at Miami, Mercadante helped lead the Hurricanes to the NCAA Tournament seven consecutive times. In that span, Miami won four regional championships and made two College World Series appearances.
“The big thing is it’s really coming together and getting hot at the right time,” Mercadante said. “I went twice with Miami, and one time it was the whole year we were playing our best baseball, and one time it was we just got hot at the end of the season.”
The Knights now have two coaches with Omaha experience, to go along with a roster full of players who qualified for regionals this season.
“There’s lots of big things ahead of this program, and, really, the opportunity to get there at this time was just something I really look forward to,” Mercadante said.
Mercadante resigned from Miami in June because it was time to take the next step in his coaching career – to be a recruiting coordinator.
“When you want to be a head coach it’s always good to have that foundation of having every aspect of the coaching,” Mercadante said. “I was really just looking for the opportunity to take the next step and have some more responsibility and that was what I was looking for and things just worked out perfectly to catch on to a place like UCF with Coach Rooney.”
Mercadante arrived at UCF on July 1; the same day he was announced as the team’s new assistant coach. He immediately jumped into the position and spent the weekend recruiting at a tournament held at UCF. On Friday, he will head to Georgia for two weeks to continue recruiting.
As the new hitting coach, Mercadante hopes for a smooth transition.
“You don’t want to come in and shock the system and change a lot of guys, and that’s not what I’m into doing,” Mercadante, who said he had a good relationship with Godwin, said. “I think Cliff’s done a great job and I’m just going to try to pick up where he left off and keep priming up.”
He will also work defensively with the catchers. With Beau Taylor joining the Oakland Athletics organization, the catching position needs to be filled in the fall. In recent years, catchers Taylor, Ryan Breen and Chris Taladay have each earned Freshman All-American Honors, with Taylor being selected to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List twice. Mercadante’s experience and coaching should only improve UCF’s catchers’ accolades.
Mercadante has not met many players yet, but he has introduced himself to them over the phone. He is excited to meet each of them in the fall and get to work. And just like the rest of the team, he’s looking forward to the 2012 season, where the Knights hope to make a longer postseason run. Even if UCF plays Miami, Mercadante is ready.
“It’s going to be fun,” Mercadante said. “The bittersweet part is that, yeah, a lot of those guys that are there, I was a big part in recruiting them to Miami. But you know, at this level it’s all about competition. And that’s one of the things I love about coaching, is that I like competition. So when we get out there I’m going to want to win that game just as much as the next one.”
Source: Central Florida Future, Knights name Joe Mercadante new hitting coach and recruiting coordinator, by Jessica Gillespie, baseball beat writer. Published: Wednesday, July 6, 2011, updated: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 16:07