Former Eagle Earns Gold Glove at Florida Southern

Former Eagle Earns Gold Glove at Florida Southern

Former Polk infielder Conor Szczerba was smitten.

The Rawlings Gold Gloves were pretty.

The personal challenge was on.

Szczerba coveted the Gold Glove trophies that his former Eagle teammates Alec Asher and Erik Hindmon received at the beginning of the 2013 season, following Polk's state title and World Series run.

"Once (Polk coach Al) Corbeil showed me, I wanted to win one," Szczerba said. "It's cool. Now I have one."

Szczerba, 22, was the only player in the Sunshine State Conference to earn a 2013 Rawlings/ABCA NCAA Division II award.

The former Suncoast Conference Player of the Year with Polk posted a .986 fielding percentage, recording 75 putouts and 143 assists in 46 games for the Mocs.

The Florida Southern College second baseman committed only three errors in 221 chances.

"I was honestly surprised," Szczerba said of the award. "You would think someone would have less than three errors."

When he made his first error in his 19th game of the season, he thought his chances of the honor were all over.

"I made a joke to one of my teammates — there goes my gold glove," he said.

The award was not on Szczerba's radar until he started taking the game seriously.

His arm was not his best feature.

"Coming into college, I did not have a good arm," he said. "I'm not one of the most talented players. Energy and hustle is what I always try to bring to the field. It just goes with diving around and making plays."

Along with his playing days at Polk, Szczerba spent his summers trying to improve. He practiced taking ground ball after ground ball in two different leagues over three summers.

He played one summer in the Midwest Collegiate League.

He is now in his second summer in the North Woods League in Minnesota, where he played with former Eagle Colt Hankamer last year.

"Colt gave me some tips, and we got into a throwing program and got better and better," Szczerba said.

Szczerba knows how to fight for what he wants.

Being the fifth child of seven might have something to do with his dedication and grit.

"It's the way it was in our house," he said. "You are always being scrappy and always having to fight for yourself and I think that mentality goes into it as well."

He's resourceful as well.

As a youngster, he hid the sweet Captain Crunch cereal in the bland Cheerios box.

"I didn't want anyone to find it," he said.

Following a dazzling high school baseball and football career at Titusville High School, Szczerba signed with Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

Like a shattered wooden bat, Szczerba's dream of a career in baseball was thrown in the garbage when a Mercer coach told him he was not good enough to play.

"I was heartbroken at first," he said. "But I knew I had a college career in baseball somewhere else."

Szczerba returned home to Florida with a heavy heart.

His brother, Patrick, a coach at Florida Southern College, used his connections and managed to get his brother a tryout at Polk State.

Conor walked on with the Eagles.

Polk State's interest was a lifeline to him.  

"I might not have ended up at Polk if it wasn't for that," he said of his experience at Mercer. "I think Polk changed my life for the better. It ended up paying off and we ended up winning a state championship."

He eventually hopes to get drafted by a professional team.

"I'm a Mets fan," he said. "(But), any team that would draft me, I would be their fan." 

3/24/17 6:00 PM
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3/25/17 1:00 PM
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