TAMPA, Fla.— Outfielder Casey Scoggins is embracing his leadership role during his final season with the University of Tampa Spartans.
Scoggins, the reigning National Defensive Player of the Year and member of the 2014-15 NCAA Division II national baseball championship team, knows that he will have to play a key role for the Spartans in order to defend their title.
Coach Joe Urso believes that Scoggins’ play on the field will give a boost to his teammates.
“He’s the best, that guy will run through a wall, literally, for this team,” he said. “That guy plays with more fire than anyone I know.”
The diminutive outfielder admits that leading a team with so many new faces wasn’t without it’s challenges.
“It was hard at first because we have so many new kids but now that the seasons started, its all clicking now. Its been pretty good so far,” he said.
Coming off a championship team, Scoggins preached to his younger teammates of the importance of a good locker room vibe.
“We all like each other, its like a brotherhood. Were going to argue but at the end of the day we’ll joke around with each other, we’ll all hang out with each other. It’s a good atmosphere in the locker room, we just have a lot of fun.”
Maturation has also helped the Port St. Lucie native understand the mental aspect of his game.
“I think growing up, especially early on in my college career, the mental part of the game was a big problem for me,” he said. “Coming here I got more mature and coming up at bat I learned not to put so much pressure on myself.”
The coaches have played a big part in developing Scoggins as the player, and the leader, that were hoping for at the start of the season.
“They help us out a lot. I came from a junior college, Santa Fe, and coming here they’ve made sure that I’ve gotten settled in really well,” said the scrappy southpaw. “They’re not just coaches they’re more like role models and off the field I’m able to go talk to them about personal issues and not just baseball or school.”