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Gators graduate impresses in one
A single performance at second base, where Samantha Cronk had not played in awhile, nets a scholarship from Western Kentucky.
By FRANK PASTOR
Published July 28, 2005
LAND O'LAKES - Samantha Cronk didn't need long to make a lasting impression.
While playing for the Clearwater Bombers in a college exposure tournament three weeks ago in Colorado, the Land O'Lakes graduate spent most of her time in centerfield.
But the one game Cronk played at second base was enough to convince Division I Western Kentucky to offer a full scholarship.
Two days after the tournament, Cronk accepted the offer, overturning a commitment she made to Hillsborough Community College weeks earlier.
"I'm really happy," said Cronk, a three-time Sunshine Athletic Conference first-team selection. "I like (HCC coach) Ray Seymour more as a coach, but I couldn't pass up a D-I over a community college."
Western Kentucky coach Rachel Lawson was in Colorado to watch Cronk's Bombers teammate, Ryan Rogge. But, needing a second baseman and seeing that Cronk listed second as her primary position, Lawson asked Bombers coach Ed Hofer to play Cronk at second for the final game.
Though she had not played the position since her junior season, Cronk had a strong game, including a diving catch, and was offered the scholarship after the game.
"I knew (Lawson) was looking at me through the tournament, because Ryan (Rogge, who also signed with Western Kentucky) had told me," Cronk said. "It's not that I was trying harder, but I've always been someone that hustles on and off the field all the time. It made me stand out more to her."
Cronk leaves for Western Kentucky on Aug. 24 and will begin school five days later.
"Coach told me, if I work hard enough I have a starting position waiting for me," Cronk said. "If I show her everything I can do and I work hard enough, she said I can compete for a starting position, so I'm pretty excited about that."