The former Crystal River ace adds to his arsenal and earns a scholarship to NAIA power Georgia Southwestern State.
By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 8, 2002
CRYSTAL RIVER -- Bobby Stack had two quality pitches when he signed with Central Florida Community College in 2000.
He knew that wasn't enough.
During the next two years, the former Crystal River standout added a changeup and slider to complement his fastball and curve. Stack became a more complete pitcher, landing a scholarship with NAIA power Georgia Southwestern State.
"I'm a lot better than I used to be," Stack said.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder has two years of eligibility remaining. He went 4-8 with a 5.45 ERA and tossed 2 complete games this spring as a starter for the Patriots. He was 3-1 as a reliever in 2001.
"He just pitches well," CFCC coach Marty Smith said. "He doesn't light up the (radar) gun, but he doesn't need to because he has a lot of movement and he competes.
"He can really hit his spots. He has more command (than in the past), and he throws a little bit harder. He locates the ball well and has a good roll on his curveball."
Stack's record is a bit deceiving. The Patriots went 17-35-1 this season, and Stack was saddled with losses even when he performed well. CFCC plays in the Mid-Florida Conference, which traditionally boasts many of the state's top junior college programs.
"We liked the fact he pitched against great competition and did well for a team that didn't do that well," Georgia Southwestern State coach Barry Davis said.
"We think he's going to add to our staff. He's able to throw several pitches for strikes, and he comes from a good program. The coach does a good job there."
The Hurricanes went 49-13 and were ranked as high as third in the country. Davis expects Stack to compete for a job in the starting rotation.
"We're going to need him," Davis said. "Our No. 1 pitcher graduated. We know (Stack) is already ready to pitch, and he has shown the ability to throw strikes in different situations."
Stack was an honorable mention all-area pick as a senior at Crystal River. He was the Pirates' No. 1 starter and played shortstop.
Stack credits CFCC pitching coach Bob O'Brien for much of his improvement.
"He showed me how to throw a changeup as soon as I got there," Stack said. "Then, we added the slider and that made me even better. You're not going to blow it by anybody in college. It doesn't matter how hard you throw."
Stack said he will spend the summer working out in Crystal River. He plans to focus on his leg strength, which is where pitchers get most of their power.
Classes begin at the Americus, Ga., campus in August. Athletic aid will cover 80 percent of his expenses. Stack chose Georgia Southwestern State over Flagler College in St. Augustine. -- Times staff writer Keith Niebuhr can be reached at 860-7337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.