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Bascom bouncing back

Tim Bascom brought momentum into the 2006 NCAA baseball season - but also the added weight of expectations.

It almost broke him down before he even threw a pitch.

Bascom, a 2003 Dunedin graduate and a junior pitcher at Central Florida, was named third-team preseason All-American by the Collegiate Baseball newspaper and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

Then, as accolades began pouring in, Bascom was losing 20 pounds to mononucleosis, recovering from pneumonia and rehabilitating a lower-leg injury. But just before then he had hit 93 mph on the radar gun and is likely to become the 16th UCF pitcher to get a chance at the big leagues after June's MLB Draft.

"I knew that I would only have to work harder either by the pressure or by injury. I guess I got both," Bascom said. "My teammates were positive and I could tell the team is going to be great this year."

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander was on the preseason watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award, given annually to the nation's best player, and for the second straight year was on the Roger Clemens Award watch list for the nation's best pitcher.

With UCF making its debut in Conference USA - after capturing the Atlantic Sun regular-season championship and coming up one win short of to the school's first Super Regional last year - Bascom was also been named C-USA preseason pitcher of the year.

In three starts this year as the No. 1 starter, Bascom is 0-1. The loss came after four innings on a rainy opening day; he left trailing by a run. He came back with seven shutout innings against North Florida and seven strikeouts against Stony Brook (N.Y.) in six innings. UCF (4-5) and gearing for conference play next month against the likes of Tulane, Memphis, Houston, and Rice.

"Typically, when one award falls, they all come," UCF associate sports information director Jason Baum said. "Tim is not the first preseason All-American we've had but he certainly has a greater chance of winning these awards with the more recognition he gets."

In 2005, Bascom led the Golden Knights with a 10-2 record and a 3.10 ERA in 16 games. He led the team in innings (113.2) and strikeouts (113). This season he has a 1.02 ERA and opponents are hitting .107 against him.