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Miller, Starkey capture attention

Lesser-known Crystal River players catch the eye of college programs.

By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002


CRYSTAL RIVER -- Scott Miller and Ryan Starkey were among Crystal River's least-known commodities in 2002, but their efforts didn't go unnoticed.

The colleges were watching.

Although neither earned an athletic scholarship, each has been guaranteed a roster spot at the next level. Miller, an outfielder, will attend Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville. Starkey, a left-handed pitcher, is headed to NCAA Division II power Florida Southern.

Both players will be preferred walk-ons.

Miller, a Times All-Citrus/Hernando pick, started in right field for the Pirates, batting .308 and finishing with a .505 on-base percentage. He had 20 hits, 21 RBIs, 23 runs and was error-less in the field.

"They loved him (at Santa Fe)," Crystal River coach Brent Hall said. "They've got great coaches up there and a great reputation. Scott could be one of those players that once they see him on a day-to-day basis, they're going to fall in love with him. He's a very accomplished bunter and a very good runner. He's a very competitive person. One part of his game I would recommend he work on is becoming more consistent with his swing."

Miller tried out for Saints coach Harry Tholen on Monday.

"He says I'll have the opportunity to compete for a position and that I'll probably end up getting a scholarship next year if I work hard," Miller said. "They have a good team, it's a good city and I have family over there. It's ideal for me, and they always have several players come out of there (and sign with four-year schools)."

Starkey, an honor student, is receiving full academic aid.

Florida Southern is among the premier programs in Division II. The team went 43-16 this spring and reached the NCAA Championships. The Moccasins, coached by Pete Meyer, have won eight national titles.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for him," Hall said. "If he can go down there and show he can play with those guys, that will be a great feather in his cap. I know he'll do his best, and there's no doubt he'll be successful."

Starkey was a two-time all-area selection. He went 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA this spring while primarily using a variety of off-speed pitches. Starkey was the Pirates' regular starter in left field. He batted .306 and had 24 RBIs.

"He's still young," Hall said. "He just turned 17. With a little more growth and a little more development, he's going to be a very good pitcher."

-- Times staff writer Keith Niebuhr can be reached at 860-7337 or niebuhr@sptimes.com.

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