UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

A look into the upcoming UNF baseball season with new head coach Joe Mercadante

With just under a week away until the UNF baseball team begins its 2024 campaign under first-year manager Joe Mercadante, it’s only fitting to start off with a season preview.

Before 2024 is mentioned, it’s best to look at the previous season and note how the Ospreys can improve. UNF finished the 2023 season 28-27 overall and 13-17 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. 

Following the season, longtime head coach Tim Parenton stepped down due to health reasons, and UNF Athletics hired Mercadante, who was previously an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh. This will be Mercadante’s first time as a Division I manager. 

When asked what is most exciting about coaching at the highest level of college baseball for the first time, Mercadante pointed toward being the leader and the challenges that come with it.    

“The challenge of keeping everybody pulled in the same direction,” Mercadante said. “I’m always a guy who likes challenges.”

Managing the nerves of being a first-time head coach while navigating the expectations of a college baseball season can be challenging, but for Mercadante, it’s all a part of the process.

“It’s certainly cool to kind of look back and think about the years that I spent wanting this opportunity and certainly extremely grateful for having this chance at UNF right now,” said Mercadante. 

The Ospreys will look to improve many aspects of their game under Mercadante, including UNF’s 6.32 ERA in 2023, a stat showing how many runs a team gives up in a full game, as UNF returns 12 pitchers from last season. When asked what players he thinks will have an immediate impact this year, Mercadante touted graduate pitchers Peter Holden and Tony Roca.

UNF’s 2024 schedule includes 56 games, with 33 of them being played at home in Harmon Stadium. The Ospreys will face perennial baseball programs in Florida and Florida State while playing only 12 games outside the state of Florida.

Harmon Stadium will have a new look for the 2024 season. Following the passing of longtime Osprey coach Tim Parenton, UNF is honoring Parenton by putting a logo on the side of the stadium. (Photo courtesy of UNF Baseball)

The length of the college baseball season tests the depth of every team, even the programs with many stars and big-time recruits. This occurs when teams play four or five games weekly, allowing teams to play younger and more inexperienced players. 

“I think we have some depth. We’re pretty deep in terms of guys that can contribute,” said Mercadante. 

With so many games and results in college baseball, coaches must find ways to teach their team not to get too upset about results. Mercadante knows that and hopes his UNF team won’t react emotionally to every game, especially when there are many opportunities. 

“Certainly, you want to enjoy the wins, and certainly, you don’t like to lose,” Mercadante said. “But at the same time, you have to kind of ride that even keel mindset so you’re not mentally draining yourself.”

Expectations for any first-time head coach aren’t usually too high. First-year head coaches are typically given a year to get comfortable with the position while navigating the different approaches and making necessary adjustments. 

While Mercadante and his team aim to make an NCAA regional, he doesn’t want his team too focused on results. 

“It’s important to not get caught up with the daily wins and losses but how you’re playing as a team, how you’re starting to come together,” said Mercadante. 

North Florida will open the 2024 season at home against Delaware for a three-game series from Feb. 16 to 18.


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Ethan Howick, Sports Reporter
Ethan Howick is a first-year communications major at the University of North Florida. Ethan has a passion for sports journalism with hopes of becoming a journalist and/or broadcaster for a sports media company someday. During his free time, Ethan enjoys spending time with his family and attending many sporting events with friends.
Riley Platt
Riley Platt, Sports Editor
Riley Platt is a senior University of North Florida multimedia journalism student. A lifelong Jacksonville native, Riley has always had a burning passion for sports, specifically at the collegiate level. He grew up coming to UNF basketball games as early as his middle school days and now gets to cover the Ospreys, living out his childhood dreams. Riley's done a bit of everything with Spinnaker, whether it be writing over 200 articles, doing play-by-play commentary for UNF basketball and even serving as a sports anchor for Spinnaker TV’s weekly Nest News. Riley transitioned from Spinnaker to an internship at the end of the summer 2023 semester and is expected to graduate at the end of 2023. 

Comments (0)

Spinnaker intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, slurs, defamation, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and will be removed if they do not adhere to these standards. Spinnaker does not allow anonymous comments, and Spinnaker requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All UNF Spinnaker Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *