BY CANDACE MARTINO
Senior centerfielder Casey Scoggins is among hundreds of athletes at UT who flew under the radar, and learned at an early age to not take no for answer. The five-foot-ten Port St. Lucie, Fla. native’s story is likely to inspire young baseball players for years to come.
“I do whatever it takes to get the job done. I was always taught giving up is the easy way out and crests bad habits. I’ve always been the type of person to find motivation somewhere, and when people said I was too small that was enough to get me going,” Scoggins said.
Scoggins grew up around the diamond. Ever since he was strong enough to pick up a bat he fell in love with America’s greatest pastime. With strong influence from his baseball-minded father Albie, it was a no brainer that baseball would soon be his favorite sport. It was a way of life for the Scoggins family, and according to Casey’s father they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Casey grew up around professional baseball. He would be at the Mets Spring Training, which I used to run. We were always around it,” Scoggins’ father said.
As a child, playing college baseball had always been a dream of Scoggins, but getting there didn’t come easily. It took a lot of extra work on the field, coming early to practice and staying late. It took self-discipline and outworking himself everyday because he knew if he didn’t, someone else would.
“I had no choice but to do well and prove people wrong,” Scoggins said, “I was always one of the smallest guys on the field.”
Unfortunately for Scoggins, finding the right school came with an even greater expense.
Not only was he the smallest guy, his grades weren’t where they needed to be.
“It’s not where you play,”Albie said, “but how much you play. You have to be on the field getting reps.”
Scoggins walked on at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., where he became the Mid-Florida Conference player of the year as a freshman. His stats continued to improve giving him another shot at the recruiting trail. Two baseball club powerhouses in the state, the University of Tampa and the University of Florida, heavily recruited Scoggins. When asked why his final decision was UT, Scoggins credited the professionalism of the coaches and the rich tradition held deep within Spartan athletics department.
Tampa would be a place where Scoggins could compete for a national championship and make a name for himself–and that’s exactly what he did.
“Winning a national championship was the best experience of my life, and I had great teammates to share those moments with. But winning the Rawlings Golden Glove Award doesn’t come far behind it,” Scoggins said smiling.
Scoggins was named the National Defender of the Year along with many other accolades during the 2015 season, including being named as the South Regional All-Tournament Team’s Most Outstanding Player. The excitement has only gotten better for Scoggins, as he already surpassed his batting average from last year (from .350 to .381). He continues to lead the seventh-ranked Spartans to a winning record and looks forward to returning back to the national title game this June.
With hopes of continuing on the baseball legacy at here Tampa and in his family, Scoggins said there is still one thing left to do.
“I hope to get drafted this summer, I think I deserve that opportunity to prove what I can do at the pro level. If that happens that would be a great opportunity.”