By BRANDON HELWIG (ucfsports.com)
J.J. Montgomery, a junior college newcomer to UCF, figures to be a primary component of the Knights' pitching staff this season.
A native of Indiana, Montgomery comes to UCF after a successful two-year career at Northwest Florida State. He posted an 8-2 record and 1.87 ERA last season.
"It's amazing," Montgomery said of how he's enjoying being at UCF. "I love Orlando. I was in the Destin area for the last two years at Northwest Florida State. Coming from Indiana, it was a big temperature change and coming down here it's even bigger. The heat is nice. It's always nice playing baseball in the heat. I love the city. Black & Gold is everywhere. It's pretty sweet."
Last spring, UCF knew they'd have to replace some arms so they keyed in on Montgomery as a player who could fill an immediate need.
"As soon as I started talking to Coach (Justin) Parker, I knew it was the right thing to do," Montgomery said. "I took my visit and saw the conference championship game against USF. I just knew it was something I wanted to be a part of."
While winning the conference championship still counts as a success, Montgomery knows the aspirations are higher. He said he wants to be a part of "waking the giant."
"I know everybody on the team was really disappointed (about how the season ended)," Montgomery said. "It was a good season, but not how it ended going 0-2 (in the NCAA Regional). You want to finish the right way. The older guys were disappointed by it and have made it clear to us... My expectations are to pick up right where we left off. Playing hard and winning baseball games. With the talent we have, we can do anything as long as we play well and come together as a team. Our expectations are high."
What can people expect from him on the mound?
"I'm definitely an attacker," Montgomery said. "I'll come at you with my fastball until they prove they can hit it and put it in play. I'm definitely an attacker. I'm a competitor. I'm going to make you beat me and good luck with that. I'm full fledged coming at you. I'm not hiding anything."
He's got high-end velocity too.
"In the fall I topped out at 97," Montgomery said. "I hit 97 six times in our last Black & Gold (World Series) game. I'm improving."
Montgomery can't wait for the season to get there. Opening Knight against Virginia is coming up on Feb. 16.
"That'll be sweet," he said. "Like a dream. It's every kid's dream to play D1 baseball and opening up with Virginia is big too. They just won the College World Series not too long ago. I'm excited and ready to get after it."