Mercadante Named Fourth Head Coach in UNF Baseball History

 JACKSONVILLE (www.sportsdayjax.com)- The fourth head coach in UNF baseball's 36-year history is announced as Joe Mercadante is tabbed to lead the program as made official by Director of Athletics Nick Morrow.

A meet and greet will be held in July at a date to be finalized, with it also being streamed on North Florida Ospreys on Facebook. "As we went along the hiring process it became evident that Joe Mercadante would be a great fit for UNF and UNF baseball," Director of Athletics Nick Morrow said. "He has a positive reputation throughout the baseball community for his relentless recruiting efforts, the development of his student-athletes and being a coach of high character. Joe is a Florida native and is well connected throughout the state, allowing him to step in and make an immediate impact on the program. We are thrilled to welcome Joe and his family back to their home state and to the University of North Florida.""It is time for alumni, fans and the UNF community to rally behind Coach Mercadante as he leads a proud UNF baseball program with a rich history of success," Morrow said. "By providing our full support I have no doubt we will win championships, compete in the NCAA Regionals and impact many lives along the way."Mercadante's most recent stop was at the University of Pittsburgh where he was the assistant coach from 2021-23, his second stint with an Atlantic Coast Conference team after working with the University of Miami for seven seasons. A native of Gainesville, Fla., Mercadante has extensive Florida roots having spent 17 years in coaching within the Sunshine State across five different collegiate programs at the Division I, high school and travel ball levels."I am extremely grateful and humbled by the UNF family and am excited to lead the Osprey program," Mercadante said. "For me, coaching has always been about relationships. I look forward to building new relationships with the team, our passionate alumni base and our entire campus community. UNF has a storied tradition and I will look forward to the challenge of building on the successes of the past and taking another step forward. Our staff will tirelessly help the young men in our program develop on and off the field and our focus will be on the student-athletes. It's time to get to work!"A great hitting instructor and recruiting specialist, Mercadante worked primarily with the program's hitters and outfielders while assisting in the nationwide recruiting initiatives for Pitt. Each season the Panthers worked their way to the ACC Tournament in one of the nation's top leagues, while making the semis in 2022 and developing all-league outfielder Kyle Hess. Prior to that, Mercadante spent four years in the opposing dugout at Stetson University as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Hatters. During that stint, SU hosted a regional and eventually went to the 2018 Super Regionals, finishing just one win shy of the College World Series. That Stetson team achieved as high as a No. 7 ranking nationally, finishing with 48 wins. Mercadante's recruiting success while at Stetson was set up by a 13-year stretch between stops with the Central Florida Gators (2013-17), UCF Knights (2011-12) and Miami (2004-11). The Gainesville, Fla., native came to Stetson after four years with the Central Florida Gators where he helped three players to Under Armour All-American game and Perfect Game All-American game appearances. The magical 2018 season at Stetson wasn't the only year that Mercadante was part of a No. 7 nationally ranked mid-major, as the 45-17 UCF Knights were ranked as high as No. 7 during the 2012 season. The dynamic UCF offense finished in the top 40 in the country in scoring, runs, hits, home runs per game, stolen bases and walks. Ronnie Richardson, D.J. Hicks and Darnell Sweeney were all picked up in the MLB Draft that season. His first stop in the NCAA coaching world began with a seven-year stretch in Coral Gables as a volunteer assistant and eventual assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Miami Hurricanes. During that period the Canes made the NCAA Regionals seven times, four super regionals and a pair of College World Series. Eight all-americans and four MLB First Round Draft picks were produced in well-known major leaguers Ryan Braun, Yonder Alonso, Jemile Weeks and Yasmani Grandal.  His work expanded to managing the Jim Morris Baseball Camps and national-scale recruiting for the ACC stalwart.Mercadante attended P.K. Yonge in Gainesville before helping Jefferson Davis Community College to a Junior College World Series berth. After one year at Delgado Junior College in New Orleans, Mercadante finished up his collegiate career with the Gators and hit .471 off the bench.

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